Tissue chips in space

Marc A. Giulianotti, Lucie A. Low, William T. McLamb, Šeila Selimovic, Michael S. Roberts, Danilo A. Tagle

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


The International Space Station (ISS) U.S. National Laboratory in collaboration with the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) and the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) developed the “Tissue Chips in Space” initiative to promote and fund research into human physiology and disease in low Earth orbit (LEO) that will translate into advancements in Earth-based medicine. The Tissue Chips in Space initiative is part of NIH's larger Tissue Chip Program [1] that aims to develop bioengineered devices to improve the complex and expensive process of predicting whether drugs will be safe and effective or toxic in humans. These bioengineered devices, referred to as microphysiological systems, “tissue chips,” or “organs-on-a-chip,” leverage recent advances in cell biology, tissue engineering, and microfabrication to accurately model human organ tissues in in vitro platforms. These systems offer promising solutions for modelling human physiology and disease pathology for applications in areas where traditional cell culture and animal models fall short. This report provides an overview of the Tissue Chips in Space initiative, an update on the its current status, and a discussion of its potential long-term benefits.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberIAC-19_A2_7_5_x53999
JournalProceedings of the International Astronautical Congress, IAC
StatePublished - 2019
Externally publishedYes
Event70th International Astronautical Congress, IAC 2019 - Washington, United States
Duration: Oct 21 2019Oct 25 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank NASA for their support of this initiative. We also thank astronauts Anne McClain, David St-Jacques, Christina Hammock Koch, and Nick Hague for their laboratory support during Expedition 59. We also thank Amelia Smith (ISS National Laboratory) for editorial support.

Funding Information:
Table 1. Summary of projects funded through the Tissue Chips in Space initiative. Principle Investigator (PI) refers to the PI listed as the Contact PI on the NIH grant. Awardee Organization is the institution awarded the management of the grant. UCSF = University of California at San Francisco, MIT = Massachusetts Institute of Technology, UW = University of Washington, CHOP = Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, SpX = SpaceX. Grant # is the current NIH Project Number associate with the grant (search https://projectreporter.nih.gov/reporter.cfm with the project number for additional details about each project). Spaceflight Effect is the known spaceflight effects the teams are looking to utilize in their models. Translation is the potential Earth-based therapeutic applications the projects are targeting. First Flight and Second Flight are the targeted launch vehicles for the given payloads. One project was launched on SpX-16 in 2018, and four were launched on SpX-17 in 2019. The remaining projects’ launch vehicles and dates are currently to be determined (TBD).

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2019 by the International Astronautical Federation (IAF). All rights reserved.


  • Disease modeling
  • International space station
  • Micro physiological systems
  • Space flight effect
  • Tissue chips


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