The 2020 International Space Station (ISS) U.S. National Laboratory Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine in Space Seminar Series was a multiday online event hosted by the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), manager of the ISS National Lab.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH), the National Science Foundation (NSF), NASA, and commercial partners have all invested resources in life sciences research onboard the ISS National Lab to improve life on Earth—specifically in the areas of tissue engineering and regenerative medicine. This research seeks to understand the effects of microgravity conditions on stem cell behavior, 3D cell culture, the construction of complex tissues, and disease modeling.
The 2020 seminar series, held as part of the ISS Research & Development Conference (ISSRDC), reviewed key tissue engineering and regenerative medicine research conducted on the ISS National Lab in 2020 and examined how the future of this important research could advance biomedical discovery. The series also discussed specific areas of research and new capabilities that enable life sciences research and in-space production on the ISS.
The series was held online over three days: July 29, August 4, and August 6 from 11 a.m. to 12:50 p.m. ET. Each day focused on a specific topic within the areas of tissue engineering and regenerative medicine:
- July 29: Biofabrication
- August 4: Organoids and Microphysiological Systems
- August 6: Stem Cells
We are pleased to share with you the recordings from these seminars as well as related resources.
Note: Following each seminar, one or two invite-only breakout sessions—led by experts from industry, government, and academia, with participation from ISS National Lab commercial partners and NASA subject matter experts—promoted an open discussion focused on identifying barriers to enabling research in low Earth orbit (LEO) that benefits the biomedical community. A report that synthesizes the discussion points from both the seminars and these breakout sessions will be available in late fall 2020.
Seminar Descriptions and Recordings
Biofabrication: July 29, 2020
- Seminar Summary and Speakers
In the past year, the first American bioprinter was sent to the ISS National Lab. Additionally, CASIS and NASA have worked in partnership with industry to increase biological additive manufacturing capabilities in low Earth orbit. Looking to the future of bioprinting in space and its application for treating diseases on Earth, it is important to reconsider the value of additive manufacturing in microgravity and identify the fundamental questions that have yet to be answered, as well as the technical hurdles that can be addressed by investments in space-based research. During this session, we discussed the future of biofabrication in space.
Ricky Solorzano, CEO, Allevi
Allevi creates tools and solutions to design, engineer, and build with life. The company’s 3D bioprinters and bioinks are used around the world to find solutions to humanity’s most difficult problems—to cure disease, test novel drugs, and eliminate the organ transplant waiting list. Founded in 2014, Allevi’s mission is to make it easy to design and engineer 3D tissues. The company created its desktop 3D bioprinters to be the most versatile, powerful, and easy-to-use bioprinters on the market. Allevi is trusted by leading researchers and industry giants in hundreds of labs globally in the fields of tissue engineering, organ-on-a-chip research, pharmaceutical validation, biomaterial development, and regenerative medicine.
Nicole Wagner, Ph.D., CEO, LambdaVision
Nicole Wagner obtained her Ph.D. in molecular and cell biology from the University of Connecticut under the advising of Dr. Robert Birge. She entered the graduate program in 2007 and spent the majority of her graduate career working on optimizing retinal-containing proteins for application in devices. During the course of her Ph.D. research, Wagner played a critical role in the proof-of-concept experiments that helped to found LambdaVision in May 2009. Through the use of site-directed mutagenesis, site-specific saturation mutagenesis, and directed evolution, Wagner was able to genetically engineer the protein bacteriorhodopsin for a variety of device applications, including protein-based holographic and three-dimensional memories, a chemical detection sensor, and most recently, a protein-based artificial retina. Wagner is an accomplished scientist and entrepreneur with numerous peer-reviewed publications, and she has presented her research at both national and international meetings. In 2012, Wagner received the Connecticut Technology Council’s Women of Innovation “Collegian Innovation and Leadership Award” for her work with LambdaVision and was listed as one of CT Magazine’s 40 under 40 for the class of 2015. Wagner serves on the board of directors of the New England Women in Science Executive’s Club as well as the CT Technology Council. Wagner has been with LambdaVision since its inception and serves as the company’s president and CEO. Since taking on the role of CEO, Wagner has been successful in securing more than $8.65M in local, state, and government funding to accelerate the research, development, and commercialization of LambdaVision’s artificial retina.
Gene Boland, Ph.D., Chief Scientist, Techshot, Inc.
Eugene Boland has more than 25 years of experience in laboratory research, with a specific focus on developing engineering solutions for cardiovascular diseases as well as chronic wounds. His materials expertise extends from bioinert metals and ceramics to bioactive and bioresorbable electrospun polymers and proteins. After receiving his Bachelor of Science in biomedical engineering from Marquette University in 1994, Boland went on to receive his Ph.D. in biomedical engineering from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2004 after six years in the cardiovascular medical device field. Boland held senior engineering positions with companies such as St. Jude Medical Inc., Cordis (a Johnson & Johnson Co.), and Cryolife before completing his doctorate. More recently, he held the positions of principal scientist with Tissue Genesis, Inc. and chief of regenerative medicine at the University of Louisville’s Cardiovascular Innovation Institute before joining Techshot in the role of chief scientist in 2013. Boland is currently leading a collaborative team managing the Techshot BioFabrication Facility (BFF) installed onboard the International Space Station both for Techshot’s own tissue and neo-organ commercial efforts and as a materials research and development platform for the microgravity community. In addition, he is leading efforts at Techshot to develop biologically derived inks (mimetic bioinks) to take advantage of the unique capability that microgravity offers in tissue development as well as a method to induce, expand, and differentiate human induced pluripotent stem cells in a microgravity environment.
Orchid Garcia, Ph.D., Research Fellow and Lead for 3D Bioprinting and Tissue Regen Technologies, Johnson & Johnson
As a Johnson & Johnson (J&J) research fellow and lead for 3D Bioprinting and Tissue Regen Technologies, Orquidea (Orchid) Garcia is the technical lead for 3D bioprinting and related tissue regen technology development. She is responsible for evaluation and execution of technical strategies and new technologies integration to develop a new class of next-generation healthcare solutions. Garcia works closely with internal business partners as well as technology, academia, and government partners to develop bioprinting capabilities. Garcia has extensive experience identifying novel technologies through scientific discovery and translating them into patentable, marketable technologies both in industry and academia. Having served as the scientific subject matter expert on numerous initiatives, she brings a keen understanding of worldwide technical, scientific, regulatory, and policy issues that face the business. Previously, Garcia held various positions at J&J in Clinical Affairs and Regulatory Affairs. She received a Bachelor of Science degree in biochemistry and cellular biology from the University of California San Diego; a Master of Science degree in microbiology from California State University, Los Angeles; and a Ph.D. in medical biology from the University of Southern California, Keck School of Medicine. She is a fellow of the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) and is based in Irvine, CA.
Rachel Clemens, Ph.D., Commercial Innovation Manager, CASIS
Rachel Clemens is focused on advancing science and product development through experiments in space. She obtained a Ph.D. in molecular biology at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) before moving on to NASA’s Ames Research Center as a research scientist. In her current role at CASIS, Clemens helps send life science research to low Earth orbit to benefit life on Earth. She is eager to entertain even the craziest of ideas and is passionate about finding new solutions to earthbound problems.
Organoids and Microphysiological Systems: August 4, 2020
- Seminar Summary and Speakers
Microphysiological systems (MPS, also known as tissue chips or organs-on-a-chip) are multicellular engineered platforms that enable researchers to develop in vitro models of human organs. These systems have been used for many purposes, including modeling rare diseases, testing for drug toxicity, screening for cancer, and understanding metabolism, among others. In 2016, CASIS partnered with NIH to develop the Tissue Chips in Space initiative. The initiative explores the use of MPS to validate how microgravity can be used to accelerate the induction of diseases such as sarcopenia and cardiomyopathy and then examines how MPS in microgravity can be used to expedite the development of therapeutics for use back on Earth. In recent years, the use of organoids (self-organized three-dimensional tissue cultures) for disease modeling and fundamental biology research has expanded, including their integration into MPS devices. During this session, we reviewed highlights from the past year, discussed the future of MPS and organoid research in low Earth orbit, and identified potential focus areas for utilization of the ISS National Lab to translate discovery into new products.
Jeanne Loring, Ph.D., Chief Scientific Officer, Aspen Neuroscience
Jeanne Loring is a world-renowned stem cell scientist and co-founder of Aspen Neuroscience. Loring’s work provided the methods for differentiation of autologous induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) into dopaminergic neurons, which formed the basis for Aspen Neuroscience. Loring has a wealth of biotech industry experience including founding Arcos Bioscience (now Viacyte) and leading the development of Hana Biologics, GenPharm International, Molecular Dynamics, and Incyte Genomics. She was the founding director of the stem cell center in the Center for Regenerative Medicine at The Scripps Research Institute and co-founder of the stem cell center at the Sanford Burnham Prebys Discovery Research Institute. Loring is professor emeritus at The Scripps Research Institute, scientific advisor for Summit for Stem Cell Foundation, research fellow of the San Diego Zoo, adjunct professor in Human Genetics at Sanford Burnham Prebys Discovery Research Institute, and adjunct professor in the School of Public Health at San Diego State University. Loring has provided advanced training in human stem cell biology for more than 400 scientists over the last 15 years. She is author of the “Human Stem Cell Manual” and has an issued patent for PluriTest®, a novel bioinformatic test for pluripotency that is publicly available and has been used more than 30,000 times globally.
Deok-Ho Kim, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Johns Hopkins School of Biomedical Engineering
Deok-Ho Kim’s group research spans the disciplinary boundaries between nanotechnology, biomaterials, and mechanobiology, with an emphasis on applications to tissue engineering and regenerative medicine. Kim is also a founder of NanoSurface Biomedical (now Curi Bio), which is focused on integrating human induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC)-derived cells, tissue-specific biosystems, and AI-enabled data analytics to accelerate the discovery of new therapeutics. Recently, Kim and his team sent an engineered heat tissue platform to the ISS.
Stefanie Countryman, Director, BioServe Space Technologies
Stefanie Countryman is the director of BioServe Space Technologies and a research associate within the Ann and HJ Smead Aerospace Engineering and Science Department at the University of Colorado Boulder. Countryman has worked for BioServe for more than 20 years. As director, she leads a wide variety of activities including developing and overseeing the strategic direction of BioServe, grant writing, and technical and programmatic oversight of space life science investigations and engineering projects. Countryman has been involved in or directly responsible for the development and/or management of more than 50 different space life science experiments, ranging from the simple to the very complex. As such, she is intimately familiar with the process for developing, launching, and operating life science experiments in space as well as the development of the supporting space flight hardware. Countryman has expertise in translating ground-based life science research into space-based life science research. While she has experience with the translation of many different types of life science experiments, mammalian cell culture, in particular, is her area of expertise and focus. Recently, Countryman has been involved with experiments examining microgravity’s effects on proximal tubule epithelial cells of the kidneys, induced pluripotent stem cells, mesenchymal stem cells, cardiomyocytes, and endothelial cells. Each experiment seeks to utilize the microgravity environment as a model for different types of human disease, including aging, in order to seek more effective treatments for people on Earth.
Lucie Low, Ph.D., Scientific Program Manager, National Centre for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS)
Lucie Low is a scientific program manager for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Tissue Chips for Drug Development program at the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) at NIH, where she manages up to 50 transdisciplinary teams funded by NIH to develop tissue chips, or organs on chips—potentially transformational tools for drug development. She is also the NIH and HHS-NASA liaison point of contact, working to discuss and facilitate collaborations between NIH and other agencies (e.g. FDA, CDC) and NASA on areas of overlapping agency interest. Prior to joining NCATS in 2016, Low was a research fellow at the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health at NIH, researching nonpharmacological interventions for the prevention and reversal of chronic pain and the interactions between pain, emotion, and cognition. She obtained her master’s and Ph.D. in neuroscience from University College London in the United Kingdom after completing her undergraduate degree at Oxford University.
Marc Giulianotti, Ph.D., Senior Program Director, CASIS
At CASIS, part of Marc Giulianotti’s activities include managing the Tissue Chips in Space initiative, cosponsored by CASIS and the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, as well as the Tissue Engineering and Mechanobiology in Space initiatives, cosponsored by CASIS the National Science Foundation. Prior to joining CASIS, Giulianotti spent more than 20 years working in early drug discovery efforts at the Torrey Pines Institute for Molecular Studies. He received his Bachelor of Science in chemistry/biochemistry from the University of California San Diego, his MBA from San Diego State University, and his Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of South Florida.
Stem Cells: August 6, 2020
- Seminar Summary and Speakers
Some of the earliest CASIS-supported investigations were aimed at understanding the effects of microgravity on stem cell behavior. Through these studies, the research community has made intriguing observations and gained greater understanding of the mechanisms underlying stem cell biology. During this session, we reviewed highlights from the past year, discussed what the future of stem cell research in low Earth orbit might look like, and identified potential focus areas for the ISS National Lab and the wider space community.
Abba Zubair, M.D., Ph.D., Medical Director of Transfusion Medicine and Stem Cell Therapy, Mayo Clinic
The Mayo Clinic division that Abba Zubair oversees includes a blood bank that supports one of the largest liver transplant programs in the world, a state-of-the-art clinical apheresis unit, and an FDA-registered cGMP stem cell therapy laboratory. Zubair a certified international inspector of bone marrow transplant centers and blood banks for the Foundation for the Accreditation of Cellular Therapy (FACT) and the American Association of Blood Banks (AABB). He is currently a consultant in Transfusion Medicine and professor at Mayo Clinic College of Medicine. Zubair is also the associate dean of the Mayo Clinic School of Health Sciences. He carried out his clinical residency at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in clinical pathology and undertook a fellowship in transfusion medicine at the Harvard Medical Center in Boston. Zubair obtained a master’s degree in clinical trials and principles of drug development at Harvard University and MIT. After his training, he joined the Transfusion Medicine staff at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the Dana Farber Cancer Institute as a clinical instructor. Zubair received his education at Ahmadu Bello University Medical School in Zaria, Nigeria. He also studied homing and trafficking of human lymphoma cells at the Sheffield University Cancer Institute in England and obtained his Ph.D. in cancer immunobiology from the University of Sheffield in 1995.
Jana Stoudemire, Commercial Innovation Officer, Space Tango
As the commercial innovation officer at Space Tango, Jana Stoudemire leads the commercial market creation for biomedical and technology manufacturing applications in low Earth orbit (LEO). She transitioned from working in pharma to leading life science research in microgravity, initially as part of CASIS, the organization that manages the International Space Station U.S. National Laboratory, and then at Space Tango, to focus on building an emerging market in LEO representing new sectors of the space economy. Stoudemire is a member of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine Committee on Biological and Physical Science in Space, a member of the Regenerative Medicine Manufacturing Society, a Women In Advanced Therapies (WIAT) leadership mentor. Previously, she was a member of the New Organ Alliance Oversight Committee and co-chair of the Microgravity Enabling Technology Committee.
Arun Sharma, Ph.D., Senior Research Fellow, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center
Prior to his current position, Arun Sharma was a postdoctoral research fellow at the Harvard Medical School Department of Genetics. His research focuses on the applications of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) for studying cardiovascular biology, modeling diseases “in a dish,” and high-throughput screening of drug toxicity. As a graduate student at Stanford University, Sharma led an effort to send a sample of hiPSC-derived cardiomyocytes to the International Space Station to investigate the effects of microgravity on human heart cell function.
Stephen Lin, Ph.D., Senior Science Officer, California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM)
Stephen Lin is a senior science officer at California’s stem cell agency, CIRM. He oversaw creation of its iPSC Repository, from tissue collection to line generation and distribution infrastructure. Lin is also the program lead on CIRM’s genomics initiative, a consortium involving more than 20 laboratories that applies genomics approaches to stem cell research, driving the creation of a centralized bioinformatics hub for the initiative. In therapy development, he is program lead on a preclinical research organization termed the Translating Center focused on preparing stem cell therapy candidates for clinical trials and has organized conferences on cell therapy manufacturing. Lin manages several discovery- and translational-stage stem cell awards plus CIRM’s SPARK internship training program. Prior to CIRM, he was a scientist at Thermo Fisher Scientific and StemCells, Inc of California, developing new methods for genetic analysis and cell therapies for the liver. Lin received his Ph.D. from Washington University in St. Louis and did his postdoctoral research at Harvard University.
Kelly Shepard, Ph.D., Associate Director of Discovery and Translation, California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM)
Kelly Shepard serves as associate director of discovery and translation at CIRM, where her responsibilities include scientifically administering a large portfolio of early- and translational-stage research awards, overseeing CIRM’s state-wide undergraduate and master’s-level training programs, and curating CIRM’s progress and outcomes for public dissemination. Most recently, Shepard’s efforts have focused on helping teams anticipate and address the unique scientific and technical hurdles involved in translating a stem cell based therapy, from fundamental knowledge gaps to the challenges of process development, manufacturing, and regulatory strategy. Prior to joining CIRM in 2009, Shepard used a variety of multidisciplinary approaches to investigate biological mechanisms underlying cell behavior and function, ranging from the regulation of mitochondrial inheritance and morphology to the study of RNA localization as means of gene regulation. After leaving academia, Shepard led an effort at Parallel Synthesis Technologies, Inc. to adapt a new optical encoding platform for use by biologists in high-throughput screening applications. She has also acted as an independent contractor and biotechnology consultant. Shepard received her Ph.D. from the University of California San Diego and conducted postdoctoral studies at the University of California, San Francisco as a fellow of the Jane Coffin Childs Memorial Fund for Medical Research.
Liz Warren, Ph.D., Senior Program Director, CASIS
Liz Warren has been involved in spaceflight research for nearly three decades. She was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area and attended the University of California at Davis, where she earned both her undergraduate and doctoral degrees in physiology. For her doctoral work, Warren investigated the effects of gravity as a continuum on energy balance in rats. She completed postdoctoral work in cancer biology at the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Laboratory of Cell Growth and in the Neuroscience Laboratory at NASA’s Johnson Space Center. Warren has performed a variety of roles at NASA, including serving as deputy project scientist for the NASA Bed Rest and Artificial Gravity Projects. Warren also spent several years as an operations lead in Mission Control for the ISS Medical Project. She is a passionate science communicator and an advocate for human spaceflight and STEM.