NSF-Funded Solicitation to Leverage the ISS National Lab for Tissue Engineering Research is Now Open

Credit: NASA

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla, December 6, 2021 (CASIS PR) – The U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space, Inc. (CASIS) announced a solicitation to utilize the International Space Station (ISS) to advance research in tissue engineering and mechanobiology. Through this solicitation, NSF will provide up to $1.2 million in funding to support multiple projects that will launch to the orbiting research platform under the sponsorship of the ISS National Laboratory. CASIS is the organization responsible for management of the ISS National Lab through a Cooperative Agreement with NASA.

This is the fifth annual NSF/CASIS joint solicitation focused on tissue engineering and mechanobiology to further drug discovery and therapeutic development through space-based research. Microgravity affects organisms—from bacteria to humans, inducing changes such as altered gene expression and DNA regulation, changes in cellular function and physiology, and 3D aggregation of cells. Research leveraging these effects can drive advances in pharmaceutical development, disease modeling, regenerative medicine, and many other areas within the life sciences.

For example, a recently launched tissue engineering investigation awarded through a previous NSF-CASIS solicitation utilized microgravity conditions to develop a tissue-engineered model of sarcopenia, the age-related deterioration of skeletal muscle. The project is from a research team at Palo Alto Veterans Institute for Research and Stanford University. If validated, the team’s model could be used to study the progression of muscle deterioration. It could also serve as a valuable platform for testing potential treatments for sarcopenia and related muscle disease. 

For this current solicitation, prior to submitting a full proposal to NSF, interested investigators must first submit a Feasibility Review Form to CASIS. The information provided in this form is used to evaluate the operational feasibility of the proposed research to be conducted on the orbiting laboratory. The deadline to submit a Feasibility Review Form is January 7, 2022. Only those with projects that pass the ISS National Lab Feasibility Review will be invited to submit a full proposal to NSF. The notification of a passing score must be included in the full proposal submission. NSF will close this solicitation on March 8, 2022.

NSF supports transformative research to help drive the U.S. economy, enhance national security, and maintain America’s position as a global leader in innovation. Fundamental science and government agency-sponsored research is a strategic area of focus for the ISS National Lab. Knowledge gained from such research could have profound impacts on future research and technology development that brings value to our nation and drives a sustainable and scalable market in low Earth orbit.

To view the full solicitation, please see the NSF solicitation page. To learn more about the benefits of conducting research leveraging the ISS National Lab, please visit www.ISSNationalLab.org.

About the International Space Station (ISS) National Laboratory: The International Space Station (ISS) is a one-of-a-kind laboratory that enables research and technology development not possible on Earth. As a public service enterprise, the ISS National Lab allows researchers to leverage this multiuser facility to improve life on Earth, mature space-based business models, advance science literacy in the future workforce, and expand a sustainable and scalable market in low Earth orbit. Through this orbiting national laboratory, research resources on the ISS are available to support non-NASA science, technology and education initiatives from U.S. government agencies, academic institutions, and the private sector. The Center for the Advancement of Science in Space, Inc. (CASIS) manages the ISS National Lab, under Cooperative Agreement with NASA, facilitating access to its permanent microgravity research environment, a powerful vantage point in low Earth orbit, and the extreme and varied conditions of space. To learn more about the ISS National Lab, visit www.ISSNationalLab.org.

About the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF): The U.S. National Science Foundation propels the nation forward by advancing fundamental research in all fields of science and engineering. NSF supports research and people by providing facilities, instruments and funding to support their ingenuity and sustain the U.S. as a global leader in research and innovation. With a fiscal year 2021 budget of $8.5 billion, NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 40,000 competitive proposals and makes about 11,000 new awards. Those awards include support for cooperative research with industry, Arctic and Antarctic research and operations, and U.S. participation in international scientific efforts. To learn more about the U.S. National Science Foundation, visit www.nsf.gov.