Researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) have been awarded one of 12 grants for space biology research that will advance NASA’s understanding of how organisms respond, acclimate, and adapt in space. These projects will all support NASA’s human space exploration project.
Dr. Elizabeth Blaber, Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering at RPI, was awarded a Grant for her work titled Unraveling the Role of Mitochondrial Dysfunction and Senescence on Inhibition of Tissue Regeneration During Spaceflight and Amelioration by a Novel Countermeasure, PQQ. This is a collaborative project with Dr. Karen Jonscher at Oklahoma Universities Health Sciences Center and Dr. Keshav Singh at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. The research aims to understand the underlying mechanisms that cause decline of tissue health during spaceflight. The investigation will examine the ability of stem cells to repair damaged tissue specifically in the bone and skin. The grant will also fund research into potential dietary supplements that may aid in tissue health during both spaceflight exposure and normal aging here on Earth. This research is important to understand how body systems talk to each other during both health and disease and to understand how these signals may be interrupted by extreme environments during spaceflight.
The grants are part of NASA’s Biological and Physical Sciences Division (BPS) that researches how to enable organisms to Thrive In Deep Space (TIDES). These efforts will focus on determining the effects of multiple deep-space stressors, including deep space radiation and reduced gravity on multiple animal models. The selection of these awards was made possible through a collaboration between BPS and the Space Radiation Element of the NASA Human Research Program, which will provide access to the NASA Space Radiation Laboratory at Brookhaven National Laboratory for many of the awarded studies.
Twelve investigators from eight institutions in seven states will conduct these space biology investigations. Six of these awards are to investigators new to the Space Biology Program within BPS. When fully implemented, about $3.55 million will be awarded in fiscal years 2023-2026.