ISS National Lab Announces Request for Proposals to Access Space Flown Rodent Research Specimens

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla., March 15, 2019 /PRNewswire/ — The International Space Station (ISS) U.S. National Laboratory announced a Request for Proposals (RFP) for investigators seeking biological specimens from mice to support fundamental biological and biomedical inquiries related to the effects of age on health after exposure to microgravity. Due to a tremendous response from the research community after an initial Rodent Research Reference Mission in 2018, the ISS National Lab will provide a second opportunity to access space flown biospecimens. For this Rodent Research Reference Mission sponsored by the ISS National Lab, 40 female mice will launch to the space station aboard SpaceX’s 18th commercial resupply services mission and will be housed on the ISS for at least 30 days. While 30 of the mice will be returned alive to Earth on the SpaceX Dragon, 10 of the mice will remain on station for additional exposure to microgravity. Awardees from this RFP will have the ability to evaluate biospecimens from both ground control and spaceflight-exposed mice after their return to Earth. The primary hypothesis of the Rodent Research Reference Missions is that exposure to the spaceflight environment will result in significant and rapid effects on multiple organ systems of younger and older mice, providing valuable insight for the scientific and medical communities.

Rodent spaceflight experiments have provided a broad range of translational data pertinent to biomedical advancements in neurology, muscle and bone physiology, immunology, and cardiovascular and developmental biology. This Rodent Research Reference Mission will allow researchers to further analyze biological specimens toward better disease modeling to improve patient care on Earth. Proposals requesting biospecimens should be responsive to one of the two emphasis areas described below (or should include in the technical description of the proposal the hypothesis-driven science justifying use of the biospecimens):

  • Spaceflight induces profound changes in the human body that may be replicated in animal models of disease. The responses of humans and model organisms to spaceflight may, in some cases, mimic the onset and progression of health-related outcomes associated with cellular senescence and aging. Proposers are encouraged to submit concepts focused on enhancing disease modeling through rodent research as models of human disease.
  • Spaceflight has also been observed to affect cellular and molecular pathways involving, for example, epigenetic regulation, oxidative stress, protein synthesis, mitochondrial function, and telomere length homeostasis. Spaceflight provides researchers an opportunity for the analysis of these cumulative, exposure-dependent physiological changes in animal models and in an accelerated model of disease.

No funding is available through this RFP. Awardees will receive requested biospecimens after their return from the space station. Researchers are asked to complete and submit a full proposal no later than May 17, 2019.

For those interested in learning more about this RFP, or to submit a proposal, please visit

Additionally, on March 22 at 10 a.m. EDT, the ISS National Lab will host a webinar to provide further background on the RFP and to answer any questions from researchers. To join this webinar, please register at

This RFP is in association with Taconic Biosciences (who will provide the rodents) and BioServe Space Technologies (who will administer the biospecimens). To learn more about the in-orbit capabilities of the ISS, including past rodent research initiatives, visit

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.


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SOURCE International Space Station (ISS) U.S. National Laboratory

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