Press Release

NSF and CASIS Select Three Tissue Engineering Projects to Leverage the ISS National Lab

By SpaceRef Editor
September 8, 2021
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The Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) and the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) today announced three awarded projects from a joint solicitation focused on transformative tissue engineering and mechanobiology research. Through this partnership, NSF awarded $1.2 million to the selected projects to leverage the International Space Station (ISS) U.S. National Laboratory to advance fundamental science and biomedical engineering. CASIS, manager of the ISS National Lab, will facilitate hardware implementation in-orbit access, and astronaut crew time to support the investigations on the orbiting laboratory.

Over the years, CASIS and NSF have partnered on four separate tissue engineering and mechanobiology solicitations to further drug discovery and therapeutic development through space-based research to benefit patients on Earth. Microgravity affects organisms—from viruses and bacteria to humans, inducing changes such as altered gene expression and DNA regulation, changes in cellular function and physiology, and 3D aggregation of cells. Researchers are utilizing the unique environment on the ISS for research to advance disease modeling, pharmaceutical development, and regenerative medicine, bringing value to our nation and driving a robust market in low Earth orbit.

Below highlights the three projects awarded through this most recent solicitation. Note that all grants and subsequent flight opportunities to utilize the ISS National Lab are contingent on final contract agreements between the award recipients, CASIS, and NSF.

In the coming weeks, additional press releases will provide a deeper dive into some of these projects, showing how the ISS National Lab is being used to advance tissue engineering research in ways not possible on Earth.

Astronauts onboard the ISS recently completed operations on an NSF-funded tissue engineering investigation awarded through a previous NSF-CASIS solicitation. In this project, researchers from the Palo Alto Veterans Institute for Research and Stanford University are leveraging microgravity to develop a tissue-engineered model of sarcopenia, the age-related deterioration of skeletal muscle. If validated, the model could be used to study the progression of muscle deterioration and serve as a valuable platform for testing potential treatments for sarcopenia and related muscle disease. Learn more about this investigation in the press release “Tissue Engineering in Space Could Treat Age-Related Muscle Loss on Earth.”

For more information about opportunities available through the ISS National Lab and to learn how space-based research brings value to our nation and drives a robust market in low Earth orbit, please visit

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About the International Space Station (ISS) U.S. 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 (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

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.

SpaceRef staff editor.