NIH, NASA seek "highly meritorious biomedical experiments" for International Space Station

APRIL 8, 2009--Got a bio-optics/biophotonics idea that needs testing in space? A NIH-NASA partnership may be interested. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) today announced its willingness to fund "highly meritorious biomedical experiments" that could benefit from the unique environment in space to produce breakthroughs in improvement of human health on Earth.

The NIH is partnering with the National Air and Space Administration (NASA) to conduct the biomedical experiments that astronauts could perform on the International Space Station. The space station provides a special microgravity and radiological environment that Earth-based laboratories cannot replicate. Congress, recognizing the immense promise the facility holds for American-led science and technology efforts, opened the U.S. portion of the International Space Station to other federal agencies and university and private sector researchers when it designated the U.S. resources as a National Laboratory in 2005.

The NIH solicitation is the next step in a new partnership to apply the National Laboratory to research that complements NASA's space exploration efforts. "As the primary federal agency for conducting and supporting medical research, the NIH looks forward to facilitating access to our nation's life sciences laboratory in space," said Stephen I. Katz, M.D., Ph.D., director of the NIH's National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, and NIH liaison to NASA.

Already, biomedical experiments conducted on the International Space Station have addressed how bone and muscle deteriorate, how humans fight infectious disease, and how cancers grow and spread. "The ISS is an extraordinarily capable laboratory in a unique environment that has not previously been available for widespread medical research. NASA strongly supports the NIH's leadership in this promising opportunity," said Mark Uhran, NASA's assistant associate administrator for the International Space Station.

"We encourage all biomedical researchers in the United States-particularly those who are interested in molecular or cellular biology, biomaterials, or telemedicine-to give serious thought to how International Space Station facilities might answer their most pressing questions about how to benefit life on Earth," said Katz.

For learn more, see details on the NIH-NASA partnership and the funding opportunity.

For further information on the National Laboratory at the International Space Station, see details on the NASA site.

Posted by Barbara G. Goode, barbarag@pennwell.com, for BioOptics World.

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