High school students have all spent time in their school’s lab conducting experiments, and many students have designed their own experiments. But what if you had an idea for a experiment to be conducted not in your school’s lab, but in a laboratory in space? New York high school student Kristoff Misquitta, recently announced as winner of the 2020 Genes in Space competition, will have just this opportunity when his biology experiment launches to the International Space Station (ISS) next year.
Each year, the Genes in Space program, founded by Boeing and miniPCR bio and supported by the ISS U.S. National Laboratory, holds an annual student research competition in which students in grades 7 through 12 propose DNA experiments that leverage the unique environment of the ISS. The winning proposals are developed into flight projects that are sent to the space station. Genes in Space experiments use a compact polymerase chain reaction (PCR) machine developed by miniPCR bio that allows crew members to make copies of specific segments of DNA onboard the ISS.
Misquitta’s Genes in Space experiment, which was selected from 556 applications submitted by 1,082 students, will explore why pharmaceutical drugs are less effective in microgravity. Specifically, he will investigate whether spaceflight-induced changes in liver function may underlie the observed changes in drug efficacy. Results from his project will help improve understanding of how spaceflight affects drug metabolism and could aid in the design of more effective treatments for astronauts on long-duration spaceflight missions.
This year was the sixth annual Genes in Space competition. Over the past six years, thousands of students across the U.S. have participated in the program, and previous Genes in Space winners have achieved significant milestones through their experiments, including the first use of gene editing technology in space. Learn more about the Genes in Space program at www.genesinspace.org and in the related resources below.