Some ISS National Lab solicitations do not allow a project’s internal costs and only allow costs for Implementation Partners. Does this solicitation allow internal project costs?
Yes, it does. It covers principal investigator costs, hardware development costs, as well as the mission ingetration and operations costs. The proposal instructions document cover the budget elements in detail.
Is the funding released according to the different phases? Are there milestones needed?
Yes, the total project funding requested in the proposal will be approved at award, but the funding will be released by phase. Each phase will be approved for execution and funded accordingly. Within the Technology Roadmap and full proposal, we ask PIs to list the success criteria to demonstrate readiness to move from one phase to the next.
Why was the new Technology Roadmap deliverable added to this solicitation?
The Technology Roadmap was an additional step needed to define the phased plan and is required because the projects are anticipated to include multiple flights or phases and a higher-dollar award amount. We added it as a preselection step so that PIs and IPs have an opportunity to receive feedback on their plan/roadmap before submitting their final roadmap as part of the full proposal.
Will there be a debrief/feedback at each step?
Yes, feedback will be provided after each down-select. We expect the offeror to incorporate any feedback in future submissions.
Is a funding match required, or expected?
Matching funds should be equal to or greater than the amount of funds requested from CASIS, regardless of how the funds requested or matching funds sourced will be used. We will be looking at the bottom line budget. Matching funds can be from any source other than CASIS. Funds can include in-kind value, but this should not be a significant portion of the match. Primarily, we are looking for projects with funds the offeror’s organization or other funding partners are committing to the project in actual cash, but other sources will be considered to make up the difference.
Are mulitple flights required?
Multiple flights are not required, but given the types of projects we are expecting to see, we anticipate that most proposals will include multiple flights.
Can you give more details or examples of cancer experiments on the ISS (I am specifically interested in how microgravity can benefit such studies to benefit human health on Earth)?
We have several examples of cancer-focused projects: using crystallization in microgravity to improve manufacturing processes for the production and purification of monoclonal antibodies for cancer therapeutics; crystallizing a membrane protein found to play a key role in tumor development and the survival of cancer cells; using 3D cell culture to examine changes in tumor cell signaling pathways and gene expression to better understand how breast and prostate tumors develop and to improve therapeutic targeting; using an automated tumor-on-a-chip system to grow patient-derived cancer cells for testing chemotherapeutic drugs.
How much emphasis is this solicitation targeting cancer vs. other diseases?
Although we have emphasized cancer research, any disease model that can benefit from access to space are eligible.
Do I understand correctly that this is more for development of novel cancer models, versus using existing models in microgravity environments (i.e., developing a new organoid in a microgravity environment, versus utilizing an existing preclinical model to test a hypothesis about cancer pathogenesis?
If an offeror has an existing preclinical model that may benefit from exposure to the unique environment of space, we encourage them to submit a proposal. Note, however, that there are no capabilities to support large animal models on station, and capabilities to support rodent research are constrained.
Can you expand on how NASA BPS and Decadal goals align with focus on development of products for commercialization with benefit to life on Earth – can a proposal address only NASA goals or ISS National Lab goals or do both need to be included?
NASA’s BPS Decadal Survey will be released September 12, 2023 and will guide BPS priorities for the solicitation. A proposal must address the science objectives outlined in the NLRA but may choose to emphasize research topics in the BPS research portfolio, the ISS National Lab portfolio, or both.
Should models be human cell-based, or are models using animal (i.e., mouse) cells acceptable?
Offerors may propose any disease model that is responsive to the science objectives of the NLRA, demonstrates benefit to humanity from access to the unique environment of the ISS, and is feasible for execution on station. As the goals of the NLRA focus on translational/transformational outcomes for human disease diagnosis, treatment, and/or prevention, cell-based models are likely to be rated as having higher feasibility than animal-based models because of constrained resources. The choice of cell type is at the discretion of the PI, but the use of cell-based models using nonhuman cells would need to clearly demonstrate their translation and application for the diagnosis, treatment, and/or prevention of human disease.
What, specifically, are Implementation Partners expected to contribute to the project?
Implementation Partners (IPs) are organizations that are experts in doing research on the ISS platform. They help translate ground-based research to space-based research. IPs can help principal investigators (PIs) achieve their science requirements by working with them throughout the process to identify what can and can’t be done in space. IPs assist PIs in getting through the payload integration process, filling out the paperwork, developing safety data products, conducting operations and procedures, and passing through all of the verifications. Some IPs can provide and/or develop hardware and/or facilities that can house experiments.