R&D sponsored by the ISS National Lab continues to yield valuable results and tangible successes, as demonstrated by the numerous peer-reviewed publications, patents, and new products this year. In FY23, nearly 40 peer-reviewed articles related to ISS National Lab-sponsored research were published (citations for which are in Appendix B)—the second most ever identified in a single fiscal year. This brings the total number of peer-reviewed articles related to ISS National Lab R&D to more than 350. These published results provide a strong foundation for future applied research that will lead to valuable applications that benefit humanity.
“Over the last five years, the NCATS and ISS National Lab partnership on the Tissue Chips in Space initiative has provided a myriad of lessons learned, including how to develop and pressure-test tissue chips for flight to station and for their miniaturization and automation. More importantly, it has led to a fundamental understanding of the molecular underpinnings associated with accelerated aging effects due to microgravity and to the development of strategies to mitigate those effects that could lead to translational benefits on Earth.”
– Danilo Tagle, Director of the Office of Special Initiatives, National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS), NIH
This year, 23 publications were related to projects awarded through joint solicitations with NSF, 13 on tissue engineering and mechanobiology and 10 in the physical science area of transport phenomena. For example:
- University of Connecticut researchers published a review of research using tissue chips with integrated biosensors in space to better understand human physiology and disease.
- A research team from Auburn University published results detailing how micro-structured surfaces could be used to enhance the movement of vapor and increase the rate of heat transfer, which could lead to new technologies that better remove heat in electronics.
Other examples of FY23 publications include the following:
- Researchers from the University of Florida published results from an NIH-funded investigation testing a tissue chip system that cultures and electrically stimulates human skeletal muscle cells. The system could be used to test therapeutics for muscle wasting. This study builds on past ISS National Lab-sponsored research.
- One publication discusses research from the University of Toledo that developed cost-effective hardware to crystallize proteins in microgravity. Space-grown crystals could provide new insights into the structure of proteins that are important for drug development.
- Researchers from Georgia Tech Applied Research Corporation published four articles related to research that used the Aegis MISSE Flight Facility to study the endurance of spacecraft materials. The team captured images of the materials changing color during exposure to harsh space conditions, and results could lead to new ways to visually track the health of spacecraft during flight.
- One publication discussed research that used Hewlett Packard Enterprise’s Spaceborne Computer-2 (SBC-2) to test neural network models for in-space computing.
- Two publications are related to the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer-02, a particle physics detector seeking to advance knowledge of the universe and its origin. One provides highlights from the detector’s 11 years in orbit and the other discusses the detection of cosmic rays over an 11-year period.
“From the past organ-on-a-chip challenge and the Tissue Chips in Space initiative to today and looking forward, the ISS National Lab team members have been my partners, collaborators, sponsors, and advocates. We have listened, learned, and grown together, and that has made a difference in our research.”
– Siobhan Malany, Principal Investigator at the University of Florida, Founder of Micro-gRx
In FY23, five patents related to ISS National Lab-sponsored research were identified:
- Astrobotic Technology Inc. has a patent pending for a machine-learning algorithm to detect anomalies in machinery by “making sense” of distinctive audio patterns they emit.
- A team of researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles filed a patent for a new systemic osteoporosis therapy that both slows bone breakdown and builds new bone. Two FY23 publications are also related to this team’s research.
- adidas has a patent pending for a strategically weighted ball that induces a “spin flip” under high enough rotational speed.
- Cam Med (now Qlibrium™) was granted a patent for an electrochemistry system and method to generate gas bubbles in a microfluidic device for improved drug delivery.
- Micro-gRx filed a patent for a tissue chip system to culture and electrically stimulate human skeletal muscle cells.
This year, a new product also resulted from ISS National Lab-sponsored research. Felix and Paul Studios released a new virtual reality (VR) series called “Space Explorers: Blue Marble” that was created using imagery taken from station. This is the second VR series from Felix and Paul Studios using ISS imagery—the first was the Emmy award-winning series “Space Explorers: The ISS Experience.”
Additionally, in FY23, the ISS National Lab published three issues of Upward magazine, showcasing successful results from ISS National Lab-sponsored R&D.
- Issue 6.1 highlighted results from a project to advance technology for Gas Stations in Space™, a rodent research investigation that could lead to new therapies for muscle and bone loss, and a protein crystallization experiment looking for a cancer cure.
- Issue 6.2 detailed results from a project on cool flames that could lead to higher-efficiency internal combustion engines, an investigation to better understand how fire spreads, and stem cell research that could lead to new treatments for heart disease.
- Issue 6.3 featured results from a tissue chip experiment on immune system aging, an investigation that could lead to valuable improvements in pharmaceutical manufacturing, and a project that provided important insights into plant behavior in space and on Earth.