ISS National Lab and National Science Foundation Issue Joint Solicitation on Tissue Engineering and Mechanobiology

Up to $2 million in grant funding for investigators interested in advancing tissue engineering research on the International Space Station 

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla., October 29, 2019 (ISS National Lab PR) – The International Space Station (ISS) U.S. National Laboratory and the National Science Foundation (NSF) today announced their third annual joint solicitation for investigators to leverage the microgravity environment onboard the orbiting laboratory for research in the fields of tissue engineering and mechanobiology. Up to $2 million will be awarded for multiple research investigations to support flight projects to the ISS National Lab.

The purpose of this solicitation is to attract proposals that make use of the ISS National Lab for research projects in the fields of fields of tissue engineering and mechanobiology. Responsive proposals will describe how the proposed research will utilize the ISS National Lab and its unique environment to develop novel ideas into discovery-level and transformative projects that integrate engineering and life sciences. This solicitation comes on the heels of a recent announcement of multiple payloads awarded grants through a previous joint solicitation with NSF to leverage the ISS National Lab for tissue engineering and mechanobiology research.

Microgravity affects organisms—from viruses and bacteria to humans, inducing changes such as altered gene expression and DNA regulation, changes in cellular function and physiology, and 3D aggregation of cells. Spaceflight is advancing research in the fields of pharmaceutical research, disease modeling, regenerative medicine, industrial biomedicine, and many other areas within the life sciences.

The NSF Biomechanics and Mechanobiology (BMMB) program is particularly interested in fundamental research in areas including: multiscale mechanics approaches that integrate across molecular, cell, tissue, and organ domains and the influence of in vivo mechanical forces on cell and matrix biology in histomorphogenesis, maintenance, regeneration, and aging of tissues. The NSF Engineering of Biomedical Systems (EBMS) program has interest in fundamental and transformative research in areas such as: the development of validated models of normal and pathological tissues, the design of systems with living and nonliving components to improve and monitor health, and biomanufacturing of tissues and organs.

Through this partnership, the ISS National Lab and NASA will facilitate hardware implementation and in-orbit access to the orbiting laboratory, and NSF will fund the selected projects to advance fundamental science and biomedical engineering knowledge. NSF supports transformative research to help drive the U.S. economy, enhance national security, and maintain America’s position as a global leader in innovation.

Prior to submitting a full proposal to NSF for this solicitation, all interested parties must submit a Feasibility Review Form to the ISS National Lab for a review of operational feasibility and terrestrial benefit. The deadline to submit a Feasibility Review Form is January 10, 2020. The ISS National Lab will notify offerors of a passing or failing review score within three weeks of submission of the Feasibility Review Form. Only projects that pass the ISS National Lab Feasibility Review will be invited to submit a full proposal to NSF. The notification of a passing score must be included in the full proposal submission. NSF will close this grant solicitation on March 2, 2020.

To view the full solicitation, please see the NSF page. To learn more about the benefits of conducting research onboard the ISS National Lab, please visit