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NASA Selects 18 Space Biology Research Proposals to Advance Scientific Knowledge of Life in Space and Foster Human Space Exploration

Status Report From: NASA HQ
Posted: Friday, September 18, 2020

NASA announces the award of 18 grants for exciting new Space Biology research that will advance NASA’s understanding of how living systems respond, acclimate, and adapt to the space environment in support of human space exploration.
 
The awarded proposals represent the diversity of basic science research conducted by the Space Biology Program.  They include microbiology investigations to understand microbial behavior and genetics, plant studies to advance knowledge in areas of gravitropic responses and crop plant biology, and research in physiological response by animals to altered gravity.  Many of these investigations will employ cutting edge systems biology analytical techniques which will provide data for identifying underlying mechanisms and networks that respond to or govern biological processes in space.  The bioinformatics data generated from these studies will be submitted to GeneLab (https://genelab.nasa.gov) for open science access. These space biology investigations will be conducted by 18 investigators from 16 institutions in 11 states. Seven of these awards are to investigators new to the Space Biology Program. When fully implemented, about $8.3 million will be awarded in fiscal years 2021-2024.
 
Full text of the announcement along with selected PIs and Organizations can be found at the solicitation website (NNH18ZTT001N-FG2) or at: https://science.nasa.gov/science-news/bps/SpaceBiologyProgramNRAAwardsSep2020.
 
The awards resulted from submissions to NASA Research Announcement NNH18ZTT001N-FG2 “Appendix D: Solicitation of Proposals for Flight and Ground Space Biology Research”, which sought research proposals for both ground-based and flight research investigations, new investigations, and post-doctoral fellowships.  Investigators were invited to submit proposals that addressed one of the following three research emphases:
 
1)    Microbiology studies that will produce new understanding of how microbiological organisms and/or communities acclimate to, evolve, and/or behave in the spaceflight, lunar, or Martian environments. Topical areas include, but are not limited to, the Microbiomes of the Built Environment (MoBE); biofilm formation; and mechanisms responsive to and governing phenotypic changes in microbial biology.

2)    Plant Biology studies making use of ISS capabilities of Veggie, the Advanced Plant Habitat, the Spectrum Imager, and/or the Biological Research in Canisters (BRIC) to study environmental effects on plant growth and interactions with microbes and fungi. Proposed studies should answer fundamental questions about how plants adapt to spaceflight or respond to changes in gravity within ground analogs, and provide new understanding of how to grow plants in space that will enable human space exploration.

3)    Animal Biology (vertebrate and invertebrate) that will lead to the characterization of organ systems, physiological adaptations, and the underlying cellular and molecular mechanisms of phenotypic changes within tissues and between physiological systems. These investigations must produce new understanding of how complex organisms respond to and/or acclimate/adapt to the space environment, using ground analogs and/or flight platforms. The derived data may be applicable to advancing human space exploration.
 
This announcement provided funding opportunities to both individual principal investigators as well as postdoctoral Fellows. The Space Biology Program is managed by the Biological and Physical Sciences Division in NASA's Science Mission Directorate at the Agency's Headquarters in Washington, DC.

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