The Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) announced their fourth annual joint solicitation for investigators to leverage the International Space Station (ISS) for research in the fields of tissue engineering and mechanobiology. Up to $1.6 million will be awarded for multiple research investigations to support flight projects under the sponsorship of the ISS U.S. National Laboratory. An additional $450,000 may be available to support hardware and Implementation Partner costs for each awarded proposal. CASIS is the nonprofit responsible for management of the ISS National Lab through a Cooperative Agreement with NASA.

The purpose of this solicitation is to attract proposals that make use of the ISS National Lab for research projects in the 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 in either fundamental or translational research programs that integrate engineering and life sciences. This solicitation comes on the heels of a recent announcement wherein three projects were selected by NSF to leverage the ISS National Lab for tissue engineering and mechanobiology research as a result of the 2019 solicitation.

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 areas of pharmaceutical development, disease modeling, regenerative medicine, and many other areas within the life sciences.

Through this partnership, CASIS will facilitate hardware implementation and in-orbit access to the ISS National Lab, 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. Fundamental science and government agency sponsored research is an important line of business for the ISS National Lab, and knowledge gained from such research could have profound impacts on future inquiries that bring value to our nation and drive a sustainable and scalable market in low Earth orbit.

Prior to submitting a full proposal to NSF for this solicitation, all interested parties are requested to submit a Feasibility Review Form to the ISS National Lab for an evaluation on the operational feasibility of the proposed work to be conducted on the orbiting laboratory. The deadline to submit a Feasibility Review Form is January 4, 2021. 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 1, 2021.

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


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About the International Space Station (ISS) U.S. National Laboratory: In 2005, Congress designated the U.S. portion of the ISS as the nation’s newest national laboratory to optimize its use for improving quality of life on Earth, promoting collaboration among diverse users, and advancing science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education. This unique laboratory environment is available for use by non-NASA U.S. government agencies, academic institutions, and the private sector. The ISS National Lab manages access to the permanent microgravity research environment, a powerful vantage point in low Earth orbit, and the extreme and varied conditions of space. The Center for the Advancement of Science in Space is the nonprofit responsible for management of the ISS National Lab.