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This tech was meant to explore space. Can it also solve the mysteries of breast cancer?

LA CAÑADA FLINTRIDGE, Calif. - For decades, scientists here at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory have sent spacecraft deep into the solar system. Now, they're exploring another mysterious terrain: the human breast.

The lab's primary mission, of course, is to dream up and create robotic spacecraft to look for water on Mars or peer below the dense clouds that shroud Jupiter. But in recent years, top scientists here have realized that JPL's powerful technology for exploring the cosmos might also help solve daunting medical questions here on Earth.

"It's very simple. If JPL has a bunch of technology — to get to the moon, to look for life on Europa — and that has any benefit for medicine and health, then we have a responsibility to share that benefit with the public," said Leon Alkalai, a veteran technologist at JPL who has been involved in several space missions and now manages the lab's office of strategic planning.

One of lab's first medical breakthroughs came in the area of breast cancer.

Dr. Susan Love, a well-known surgeon and advocate for breast cancer research, was trying to understand the microbiome of breast ducts — the channels under the skin that carry milk to the nipple. (The breast was one of the organs left out of the federally funded Human Microbiome Project, she notes.) Since almost all breast cancers originate in the ducts, Love has been keen to map them and to determine if they harbor any infectious agents that may play a role in breast cancer.

But Love's analysis kept running into trouble; her team found far more microbes than they anticipated. It turns out, she said, that the antiseptic being used to clean the volunteers' skin was filled with dead microbes, which posed no risk to them but made analysis tough.

"It was hard to figure out what were the important bacteria versus what was just noise and contamination," Love said.

Enter JPL.

A tool to protect planets powers cancer research

Scientists here have developed a host of techniques to analyze very tiny concentrations of microorganisms. These tools are exquisitely sensitive because they are used for planetary protection — to ensure that NASA spacecraft carry as little earthly bacteria as possible so they don't contaminate distant worlds.

In a fortuitous coincidence, one of the scientists immersed in planetary protection at JPL, Parag Vaishampayan, had spent his postdoctoral training in Berkeley studying how a mother shares her microbiome with her infant, possibly through breastfeeding. While many biologists have long assumed the breast and ducts to be sterile, Vaishampayan knew otherwise.

"When Dr. Love presented her work, I said, 'That's fantastic. Of course there's microbacteria in the breast. And we can help analyze it,'" he said. Vaishampayan was thrilled to return to his academic roots: "When I came to NASA," he said, "I never thought I would work on microbiome - ever."

The team analyzed breast ductal fluid from 23 healthy women and 25 women with a history of breast cancer, using advanced sequencing techniques to determine the microbial fauna. They established that breast duct fluid does indeed have a distinct microbiome, and that the populations of microbes in healthy patients appear to differ from those with cancer history.

What does that mean? It's still not clear: It may be that a microbe they found only in healthy women is somehow protective against breast cancer. But it also could simply be that radiation and chemotherapy wiped out that particular microbe in women who'd been treated for cancer.

Either way, the differences are intriguing enough that Love and her collaborator, UCLA's Dr. Delphine Lee, are planning a larger, follow-up study. Vaishampayan plans to work with them. He sees real potential for clinical gains: "These are not sci-fi objectives," he said.

Indeed, there is mounting evidence that changes in the microbiome may play a role in both the development of breast cancer and how aggressively it spreads. Altering the microbiome may one day even be a therapeutic option for patients, according to Nick Chia, a microbiome researcher at the Mayo Clinic.

Mapping foreign terrain — inside the breast

Love has also tapped JPL for help updating maps of the breast ductal system, which has been little studied since some basic dissection work was conducted by master English anatomist Sir Astley Paston Cooper — back in 1840. She hopes the new maps could lead to more precise cancer surgeries.

"We know nothing about the anatomy," said Love, who now serves as chief visionary officer for the nonprofit Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation in Encino, Calif. "That's why we cut out big chunks."

The Love Foundation has tried to use regular 3-D medical ultrasound to capture images of the ducts in healthy, lactating women. But they're still very hard to trace.

That's where JPL comes in: Detailed radar mapping of complex and foreign topography is second nature to the planetary scientists.

For Love, who considers the human breast about as unexplored as the surface of Mars, the collaboration with the lab is a natural fit. "This is really discovery research. We have no idea what we're going to find," Love said. "We're like JPL. We just want to go and see what's out there."

Love credits her connection with JPL to Charlayne Fliege. A senior executive at at the lab, Fliege also belongs to Love's "Army of Women" — healthy women who volunteer their time and bodies to participate in breast cancer research. As Fliege lay on a table getting poked and prodded during one research session, Love talked about the vital need to learn more about the breast.

"She's so passionate," Fliege said. "I said, ‘Susan, you sound just like a scientist who's exploring Mars. Seriously, you should talk to the people at JPL.'"

So Love did.

Before the work could start, Alkalai had to convince his superiors at JPL to devote at least a few resources to medical questions on Earth. "It's not an easy thing to sell," he said. "JPL is very busy."

In search of ‘truly tough' questions

But when Alkalai held an exploratory meeting, he was shocked to draw a full house of 60 JPL staffers, many of whom were already working on medical projects on the side or as volunteers.

So he set up the Medical Engineering Forum, a virtual department at JPL that brings together scientists and engineers keen to work on medical projects. It brings in external researchers to talk about their work — and offers small amounts of seed money for JPL scientists to team up with them.

It's still early days for the forum, but JPL employees are already working on a number of collaborations, including working with neurosurgeons to develop smarter materials for use in spinal surgery. Also on the table: better imaging technology to guide surgeons more precisely.

JPL's tech, after all, includes "exquisite detectors to image galaxies," Alkalai said. "They can also image the human brain for cancer surgery."

Outside experts who want to work with the lab can submit "challenge problems."5 But Alkalai warns it's highly competitive. The forum looks for problems with high medical relevance — and research protocols that make full use of JPL's unique sets of skills.

"We're hard to get," he said. "What we're looking for is truly tough problems."

The new initiative has a side benefit as well. It's building community across JPL.

Scientists always attend the lectures and colloquia held here. But when the topic is medical, the rooms fill with new faces: administrators and secretarial staff rarely seen at scientific talks. "If they're talking about cancer, it doesn't matter what degree you have," said Alkalai. "It cuts across every demographic."

STAT Newsletter: https://www.statnews.com/2017/04/18/breast-cancer-jpl-space/

FUNDING OPPORTUNITIES: Biomedical Research and Technology Development Needed to Support Astronaut Health during Exploration Missions

The following opportunity was recently announced on NSPIRES. Letters of intent are due April 10, 2017 and full proposals are due May 19, 2017.

Dr. Rao Surampudi will be coordinating JPL's response to this opportunity. If you are interested in responding, please send, by email, the following information on your proposal to subbarao.surampudi@jpl.nasa.gov by March 30, 2017.

  • Title
  • Principal investigator
  • PI's organization
  • Solicitation topic addressed
  • Proposal summary (4,000 characters) that includes specific aims and a project summary.

The newly established Translational Research Institute (TRI) headquartered at Baylor College of Medicine has released a research announcement. The research topics are available at https://tinyurl.com/NNJ16ZSA001N-TRIRT and the proposal instructions can be found at https://tinyurl.com/NNJ16ZSA001N-TRIIN (links lead to NSPIRES web pages). TRI seeks innovative and disruptive technologies, techniques and countermeasures to enable and enhance human exploration of deep space. We are soliciting proposals from any US-based biomedical researcher or company, regardless of previous NASA funding.

There are two types of funding opportunities within this research announcement. The first two opportunities below—Omics capabilities for use during missions and Long duration medication stability-are large, program project grants that may span several institutions and investigators in order to collaborate on an interrelated set of research questions within one broad topic. The remaining opportunities are primarily designed as single principal investigator projects. Program project grant awards are up to $850K a year. Single principal investigator projects range from $200K to $400K per year. Project durations vary based on the research emphasis and project type. All proposers must submit a letter of intent.

Funding topics of current interest are:

  • Omics capabilities for use during missions
  • Long duration medication stability
  • Human brain imaging
  • Inflight surgical capabilities
  • Increasing organisms' resistance to radiation
  • Pharmaceuticals that preserve muscle mass
  • Inflight production of fresh food
  • Microbiome based therapies for improving health in spaceflight
  • Lymphatic imaging in microgravity

All categories of United States (U.S.) institutions are eligible to submit proposals. Principal Investigators may collaborate with universities, federal government laboratories, the private sector, and state and local government laboratories. In all such arrangements, the applying entity is expected to be responsible for administering the project according to the management approach presented in the proposal. Research with non-U.S. organizations should be conducted in a cooperative, no exchange-of-funds basis.

A pre-proposal webinar, during which TRI management will answer questions regarding this research announcement, will be held on March 23, 2017 and is open to all interested proposers. Questions must be submitted in writing at least 24 hours prior to the scheduled webinar to cmmoreno@bcm.edu. Answers to all questions (FAQ) will be posted on the TRI's website by March 25, 2017.

Proposers are required to submit a letter of intent through nspires.nasaprs.com by April 10, 2017 in order to submit a full proposal. Full proposals will also be submitted through nspires.nasaprs.com and will be due May 19, 2017.


The Translational Research Institute (TRI) is funded by a cooperative agreement from NASA to Baylor College of Medicine with consortium partners California Institute of Technology and Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The Institute's mission is to lead a national effort in translating cutting-edge, emerging terrestrial research into applied space flight and to support human risk-mitigation for exploration missions beyond low Earth orbit.

NASA Space Biology Fellowships to Study the Microbiome of the ISS as a Built Environment Research Announcement (ROSBio-2016 Appendix B)

September 15, 2016

Solicitation Number: NNH16ZTT001N-MOBE
Release Date: September 15, 2016
Mandatory NOI Due Date: October 31, 2016
Full Proposal Due Date: November 30, 2016

This National Aeronautics and Space Administration NRA "Appendix B - Research Opportunities for Post-Doctoral Fellowships in Space Biology to Study the Microbiome of the ISS as a Built Environment: Using the International Space Station (ISS) as a Microbiological Observatory" is an Appendix to the NASA Omnibus Research Announcement ROSBio-2016 (NNH16ZTT001N NRA). NASA and the Sloan Foundation have agreed through a Space Act Agreement to work in parallel for a common purpose: to sponsor studies designed to provide insight into the microbiome of the built environment of the ISS that will advance our knowledge and understanding of human-built habitats on Earth, to enhance ISS utilization, and to inform the development of future space exploration vehicles that are occupied by humans. NASA is soliciting, through this Appendix, research applications for Postdoctoral Fellowships from early career scientists to design experiments that utilize a NASA collection of ISS microbial isolates collected over a decade or more to help understand better how microbial communities colonize, adapt, and evolve on the ISS. All proposals must propose experiments that utilize these microbial isolates collected from the ISS that have been archived at the Johnson Space Center.

NASA anticipates that up to 2 awards will be made for the research requested in this NRA and that each grant will last 2 years for a total cost of $140K. The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation anticipates funding an additional 2 awards through a solicitation of their own with similar goals.

Appendix B can be found at http://tinyurl.com/NASAMoBE2016. Mandatory notices of Intents (NOIs) are due October 31, 2016 at 5 PM Eastern Time. Full proposals are due November 30, 2016 at 5 PM Eastern Time. Proposals must be submitted electronically by an authorized official of the proposing organization. Proposers may use either NSPIRES (http://nspires.nasaprs.com/) or Grants.gov (http://www.grants.gov) for proposal submission. However, mandatory NOIs must be submitted using NSPIRES.

Proposals will be accepted from Graduate students in the final year of their PhD or equivalent doctoral degree program, from Postdoctoral fellows (PhD, MD, DDS, DVM or equivalent doctoral degree from an accredited domestic or foreign institution) or from applicants who received a doctoral degree within the past 2 years, but have not yet had post-doctoral training. Applicants must have fewer than 4 years of postdoctoral training at the time of application. The solicitation is open to U.S. citizens, permanent residents, or persons with pre-existing visas obtained through their sponsoring institutions that permit postdoctoral training for the project's duration. Sponsoring institutions must be U.S. Academic, government, or commercial institutions, that will provide appropriate postdoctoral mentors.

Every organization that intends to submit a proposal in response to Appendix B must be registered with NSPIRES, and such registration must identify the authorized organizational representative(s) who will submit electronic proposals. Instructions on how to register in NSPIRES are described in the omnibus NRA (NNH16ZTT001N NRA). Each electronic proposal requires the registration of postdoctoral applicants, their principal investigator mentors, and any other participants. Potential proposers and proposing organizations are urged to access the system(s) well in advance of the proposal due date(s) to familiarize themselves with its structure and enter the requested information. Questions about ROSBio-2016 (NNH16ZTT001N NRA) and this Appendix may be addressed to the contacts referenced in the full solicitation document.

This is a broad agency announcement as specified in FAR 6.102 (d)(2). All awards resulting from selections of proposals to this Appendix and future Appendices will be grants or cooperative agreements.

Programmatic information for this NRA is available from: Dr. David L. Tomko, Program Scientist for Space Biology Life and Physical Sciences Division, NASA Headquarters; Phone: 202-358-2211; Email: dtomko@nasa.gov

NASA contracting information for this NRA is available from: Benjamin S. Benvenutti, Lead Contract Specialist, NASA Shared Services Center; Phone: (228) 813-6128; Email: benjamin.s.benvenutti@nasa.gov.

NASA Establishes Institute to Explore New Ways to Protect Astronauts

July 20, 2016

NASA is joining with Baylor College of Medicine in Houston to operate a new institute charged with researching and developing innovative approaches to reduce risks to humans on long-duration exploration missions, including NASA's Journey to Mars.

Work under the Translational Research Institute Cooperative Agreement, overseen by NASA's Human Research Program, begins Oct. 1.

Translational research is an interdisciplinary model of research that focuses on translating fundamental research concepts into practice, with appreciable health outcomes. The NASA Translational Research Institute (NTRI) will implement a "bench-to-spaceflight" model, moving results or methods from laboratory experiments or clinical trials to point-of-care astronaut health and performance applications. The goal of the research is to produce promising new approaches, treatments, countermeasures or technologies that have practical application to spaceflight.

"It's fitting on the 47th anniversary of humanity's first moon landing that we're announcing a new human spaceflight research institute that will help reduce risks for our astronauts on the next giant leap – our Journey to Mars," said Marshall Porterfield, NASA's director of Space Life and Physical Sciences Research and Applications.

Translational research has the potential to move solutions into practical application much faster than traditional research approaches. To that end, the NTRI will maintain research leadership in translational human performance, biomedical, environmental, and cognitive and behavioral science, and foster greater involvement of the science community in accomplishing the agency's human exploration goals.

The institute also will provide opportunities for scientists to gain experience in research laboratories, within and external to NASA, and apply their knowledge and expertise to reducing human exploration health and performance risks.

Major subcontractors are the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena and Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge. Services will be performed at the Texas Medical Center Innovation Institute in Houston. The agreement has a maximum potential value of $246 million for a six-year performance period with one additional six-year period that could extend work to September 2028.

For more information on NASA's Human Research Program, go to: https://www.nasa.gov/hrp

For more information about NASA's Journey to Mars, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/journeytomars

NASA Request for Information (RFI) on Topics Supporting Crew Health and Performance

Solicitation Number: NNH16ZSA001L
Release Date: July 18, 2016
Response Date: August 1, 2016

NASA's Human Research Program (HRP) investigates and mitigates the highest risks to astronaut health and performance in exploration missions. The goal of the HRP is to provide human health and performance countermeasures, knowledge, technologies, and tools to enable safe, reliable, and productive human space exploration, and to ensure safe and productive human spaceflight. The scope of these goals includes both the successful completion of exploration missions and the preservation of astronaut health over the life of the astronaut.

To support formulation of a solicitation scheduled to be released in September 2016, NASA is seeking feedback regarding potential research topics. Specifically, NASA wishes to know:
1. Are the correct research questions being asked to meet the goals of the Program? --- based on the research plan associated with each of the major risks addressed by the Program, as embodied in the gaps and tasks planned to carry out that plan (http://humanresearchroadmap.nasa.gov).
2. Is each topic sufficiently well-defined, clear and unambiguous?

Access to NASA's human life sciences data can assist the research community in providing a better understanding of the appropriate strategies required to mitigate spaceflight-related health risks. If interested in learning about and accessing this data, please visit the Users' Guide for requesting data at: http://lsda.jsc.nasa.gov/common/dataRequestFAQ.aspx

The full text of the RFI and response instructions can be found at http://tinyurl.com/2016-Crew-Health-RFI.

Responses must be submitted electronically using the NSPIRES web site. This RFI is open to responses from all parties including commercial entities, international organizations, academia, NASA Centers, and other government agencies.

The information obtained will be used by NASA for planning and acquisition strategy development. NASA will use the information obtained as a result of this RFI on a non-attribution basis. Providing data and information that is limited or restricted for use by NASA for that purpose would be of very little value and such restricted/limited data/information is not solicited. No information or questions received will be posted to any website or public access location. NASA does not plan to respond to the individual responses. The Government does not intend to award an award on the basis of this RFI or to otherwise pay for the information solicited.

NASA's Next Missions Will Blow Our Minds

Another critical ongoing research initiative focuses on the health of astronauts while aboard the ISS and other spacecraft, which will prove essential for enabling longer duration trips, such as those to Mars. According to NASA senior researcher and microbiologist Kasthuri Venkateswaran, "the combination of microgravity and radiation can diminish the effectiveness of the immune system and make innocuous microorganisms potentially harmful." By studying sealed capsules of fungi and bacteria collected aboard the ISS, Venkateswaran told NASA's website he is hoping to understand how to protect astronauts from disease while aboard—preventing "microbial contamination of spacecrafts" from compromising the search "for life on other planets."

Read more.

JPL's Medical Engineering Forum Initiative Publication: "Characterization of the microbiome of nipple aspirate fluid of breast cancer survivors"

"This publication represents a success for JPL's Medical Engineering Forum Initiative, which focuses on applying NASA technology for medical needs here on Earth," said JPL's Leon Alkalai, who is spearheading the initiative.

Dr. Parag Vaishampayan was also involved with this publication. Mina Bashir, a Ph.D. student at the Medical University of Graz, Austria, played a significant role in the genetic analysis while interning at JPL.

The publication can be viewed at: http://www.nature.com/articles/srep28061 or download here.

NASA intends to release the solicitation "Human Exploration Research Opportunities (HERO) – 2016" in July 2016.

NASA's Human Research Program (HRP) investigates and mitigates the highest risks to astronaut health and performance in exploration missions. The goal of the HRP is to provide human health and performance countermeasures, knowledge, technologies, and tools to enable safe, reliable, and productive human space exploration. The scope of this goal includes both the successful completion of exploration missions and the preservation of health over the astronaut's lifetime.

The solicited investigations can be in the topic areas of HRP's six Elements: Space Radiation, Human Health and Countermeasures, Exploration Medical Capability, Behavioral Health and Performance, Space Human Factors and Habitability, and International Space Station Medical Project. Those Elements are comprised of fourteen disciplines or areas: Behavioral Health and Performance, Bone, Cardiovascular, Extravehicular Activity, Immunology, Medical Capabilities, Muscle, Nutrition, Pharmacology, Radiation, Sensorimotor, Advanced Food Technology, Advanced Environmental Health, and Space Human Factors Engineering.

Awards generally range from under $100K per year for focused, limited efforts (e.g., data analysis) to $1M per year for extensive activities (e.g., development of scientific hardware). The funds available for awards in each program element offered in this solicitation range from less than one to several million dollars, which allows NASA to select a few to as many as a dozen proposals depending on the program objectives and the submission of proposals of merit. Awards will be made as grants. The period of performance for an award is one to five years. All categories of U.S. institutions are eligible to submit proposals. Any changes or modifications to any of these guidelines will be specified in the descriptions of the relevant program elements in the solicited research response area appendices of this solicitation.

Details of the solicited program elements are given in the solicited research response area appendices of the NASA Research Announcement (NRA). Most program elements will require a Letter of Intent (LOI) and a full proposal to be submitted; however, some program elements may require a Step-1 proposal and an invited Step-2 proposal to be submitted. Proposals that do not conform to the standards outlined in this solicitation will be declared noncompliant and will be handled in accordance with the NASA Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement (http://www.hq.nasa.gov/office/procurement/regs/nfstocA.htm). Proposal due dates are given in each solicited research response area appendix of this NRA, which will be posted at http://nspires.nasaprs.com/. Interested proposers should monitor http://nspires.nasaprs.com/ and are encouraged to subscribe to the HEOMD electronic notifications system through their NSPIRES account subscription services for additional new solicited research response area appendices or amendments to this NRA through July 2017, at which time release of a subsequent HERO NRA is planned.

ON OR ABOUT JULY 28, 2016, THE UMBRELLA DOCUMENT AND OMNIBUS SOLICITATION OF THIS NRA WILL BE AVAILABLE ELECTRONICALLY THROUGH NASA SOLICITATION AND PROPOSAL INTEGRATED REVIEW AND EVALUATION SYSTEM (NSPIRES) BY GOING TO HTTP://NSPIRES.NASAPRS.COM/. IT IS EXPECTED THAT FLAGSHIP APPENDICES WILL BE RELEASED IN SEPTEMBER 2016 AND MARCH 2017.

All categories of United States (U.S.) institutions are eligible to submit proposals in response to this NRA. Principal Investigators may collaborate with universities, Federal Government laboratories, the private sector, and state and local government laboratories. In all such arrangements, the applying entity is expected to be responsible for administering the project according to the management approach presented in the proposal. NASA's policy is to conduct research with non-U.S. organizations on a cooperative, no exchange-of-funds basis.

Electronically submitted Notices of Intent to propose are requested.

This is a broad agency announcement as specified in FAR 6.102 (d) (2).

Notwithstanding the posting of this opportunity at https://www.fbo.gov/, http://www.grants.gov/, or at both sites, NASA reserves the right to determine the appropriate award instrument for each proposal selected pursuant to this announcement.

This email is being sent on behalf of HRP and is intended as an information announcement to the research community related to the NASA Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate (HEOMD) Human Research Program (HRP).

Thank you for your continued interest in NASA.

NASA, NSBRI Select Proposals to Support Astronaut Health on Long Duration Space Exploration Missions

(Houston, April 29, 2016) NASA's Human Research Program and the National Space Biomedical Research Institute (NSBRI) will fund 27 proposals to help answer questions about astronaut health and performance during future long duration missions beyond low Earth orbit. The selected proposals will investigate the impact of the space environment on various aspects of astronaut health, including visual impairment, behavioral health and performance, bone and muscle loss, cardiovascular alterations, human factors and performance, sensorimotor adaptation and the development and application of smart medical systems and technologies. All of the selected projects will contribute towards NASA's long-term plans, such as those planned for the journey to Mars.

The Program and NSBRI work together to address the practical problems of spaceflight that impact astronaut health and their research may provide knowledge and technologies that could improve human health and performance during space exploration and develop potential countermeasures for problems experienced during space travel. The organizations' goals are to help astronauts complete their challenging missions successfully and to preserve their long-term health.

These investigations will take place on the International Space Station as well as in ground-analog settings that mimic the spaceflight environment. Among those studies, Dr. Ashley Weaver, Assistant Professor in Biomedical Engineering at Wake Forest University, will measure changes in astronauts' vertebrae and spinal muscles before and after long duration spaceflight.

Dr. Lori Ploutz-Snyder, Lead Scientist for Exercise Physiology and Countermeasures at NASA Johnson Space Center, will characterize the relationship between gravitational dose and acute physiologic responses of the cardiovascular, cerebrovascular, ocular, muscular, and sensorimotor systems using parabolic flight.

Dr. Michael Bailey, Assistant Professor in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Washington in Seattle, will refine methods to treat kidney stones in crewmembers participating in long duration spaceflight missions.

The selected proposals are from 19 institutions in 11 states and will receive a total of approximately $12 million during a one- to three-year period. The 27 projects were selected from 131 proposals received in response to the research announcements entitled, "Research and Technology Development to Support Crew Health and Performance in Space Exploration Missions" and "NASA's Human Research Program Artificial Gravity Opportunity." Science and technology experts from academia, government and industry reviewed the proposals. NASA will manage 20 of the projects and NSBRI will manage seven. Ten of the investigators are new to both organizations, and two of the selected projects will be jointly funded by the Human Research Program and NASA's Space Biology Program.

The Human Research Program quantifies crew health and performance risks during spaceflight and develops strategies that mission planners and system developers can use to monitor and mitigate these risks. These studies often lead to advancements in understanding and treating illnesses in patients on Earth.

NSBRI is studying the health risks related to long-duration spaceflight and developing the technologies and countermeasures needed for human space exploration missions. The Institute's science, technology and career development projects take place at approximately 60 institutions across the United States.

For information about NSBRI's science, technology and career development programs, visit www.nsbri.org.

New NASA@work Challenge: Seeking Ideas for Telemedicine

The Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate (HEOMD) at NASA Headquarters invites all NASA employees to participate in the new online NASA@work Challenge: "Seeking Ideas for Telemedicine" regarding telemedicine/telehealth capabilities and technologies. This challenge seeks your input to learn more about what matters to those who use telemedicine tools and services.

Telemedicine (also referred to as "telehealth") is loosely defined as the delivery of health-related services and information via telecommunications technologies, such as electronic transmission of health records, communicating with your health care provider via email, or as sophisticated as doing robotic surgery between geographically separated facilities.

You may have good ideas about what could or should be done in this area, and your input is valuable. To read the challenge, submit your ideas and learn more about NASA@work, visit: https://nasa.innocentive.com Both NASA civil service and contractor employees may participate. Submit your ideas today.

Are you new to NASA@work? NASA@work is an agency-wide, collaborative problem-solving platform that connects the collective knowledge of experts (like you) from all centers across NASA. Challenge Owners post problems and members of the NASA@work community participate by responding with their solutions to posted problems.

Point of Contact: Carissa Callini, NASA@work, Johnson Space Center,
281-212-1409 carissa.callini@nasa.gov

President Obama Takes First Step in a Cancer Moonshot

(January 28, 2016) President Obama signed a presidential memorandum creating a White House task force on cancer, the first step in what Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. has called a "moonshot" to cure the disease, administration officials said. Read the article attached for more information.

NASA Selects Proposals to Support Astronaut Health on Long Duration Space Exploration Missions

(January 21, 2016)—NASA's Human Research Program will fund 11 proposals to investigate possible changes in astronaut health and performance on future deep space exploration missions. The selected proposals will address the impact of the spaceflight environment on various aspects of astronaut health, including vision impairment, behavioral health, bone loss, cardiovascular alterations and immunological function. All of the selected projects focus on resolving the largest risks to astronauts' health, safety and performance during NASA's future missions to Mars and other destinations beyond low Earth orbit.

The program's goals are to help astronauts complete their challenging missions successfully while preserving their long-term health. The selected studies illustrate how the Human Research Program addresses the practical problems of spaceflight that impact astronaut health. The program's research provides knowledge and technologies that improve human health and performance during space exploration, including potential treatments or preventive measures (collectively called "countermeasures") for problems experienced during space travel.

The full text of the announcement and list of awardees can be found at: https://www.nasa.gov/feature/nasa-selects-11-proposals-to-support-crew-health-of-astronauts-on-long-duration-space.

Space institute to fund electronic adjustable power eyeglasses and a smart sleep mask

New medical technologies can benefit astronauts in space and consumers on Earth

(November 9, 2015)—Houston—Two small companies developing state-of-the-art medical technologies have been selected to receive grants from the National Space Biomedical Research Institute (NSBRI). LumosTech, Inc. is a Stanford University-based startup company developing a programmable mask that uses light therapy during sleep to adjust a person to a new time-zone. eVision Smart Optics, Inc. of Sarasota, Florida is developing electronic smart glasses that can change eye prescriptions, as needed.

Most astronauts experience vision changes that result in decreased visual acuity during spaceflight. NASA needs the ability to adjust the prescription as needed in real-time. "Liquid crystal lenses can be re-programmed electronically to adapt to an astronaut's changing vision. Additionally, the lens can be programmed with far, near & mid-range sections, or with all sections of the lens at a single focal length," said Tony Van Heugten, Chief Technology Officer of eVision Smart Optics.

LumosTech is developing a smart sleep mask that emits pulses of light while the user sleeps, adjusting the user's sleep cycle. "Both astronauts and ground crew are often required to perform mission critical tasks at times that are at odds with their normal sleep/wake cycle. This mask will enable them to shift their normal cycle to ensure that they are alert when needed," said Vanessa Burns, CEO of LumosTech. This technology could also benefit international business travelers that must rapidly transition into different time zones. By using this sleep mask, travelers may be able to lessen the effects of jet lag and preserve their ability to perform.

"LumosTech and eVision Smart Optics are advancing new approaches to solve real problems experienced by astronauts as well as people on Earth. Our job is to accelerate promising technologies by providing seed funding and direction," said Dorit Donoviel, Ph.D., NSBRI Deputy Chief Scientist and Industry Forum Lead.

Funding is provided through the Space Medical and Related Technologies Commercialization Assistance Program (SMARTCAP), administered by NSBRI's Industry Forum. "SMARTCAP offers grants that help small companies broaden the reach of their products, open new market opportunities, and simultaneously address the significant challenges faced by humans living and working in space."

Additional information regarding the current SMARTCAP opportunity, BioSHIELD 4 MARS, which focuses on products that can protect healthy tissues from radiation is located at www.smartcap.org. Grant recipients must secure a 100-percent match in funding. This leveraging of federal funding actively fosters public-private collaborations and partnerships.

NSBRI, a 501(c)(3) organization partnered with NASA, is studying the health risks related to long-duration spaceflight and developing the technologies and countermeasures needed for human space exploration missions. The Institute's science, technology and career development projects take place at approximately 60 institutions, distributed across the United States. For more information, please visit www.nsbri.org. The Industry Forum engages the private sector to develop medical products for both space and Earth through commercialization activities and seed funding. Find out more at www.NSBRIforum.org and follow the NSBRI Industry Forum on Twitter and Facebook.

American and German Space Institutes Partner to Perform a Trail Blazing Biomedical Research Study

The National Space Biomedical Research Institute (NSBRI) announced today that a pathfinder study is underway in Cologne, Germany to investigate the effects of simulated spaceflight conditions on brain physiology.

NSBRI has deployed a team of American neurologists and scientists to conduct a pilot demonstration experiment at :envihab, a newly-built specialized facility of the German Aerospace Center (DLR), located in Cologne, Germany. The DLR's Institute of Aerospace Medicine is overseeing the study, which examines how the human brain adapts to increased levels of fluid inside the skull in combination with elevated carbon dioxide levels. These conditions may be experienced by astronauts living and working on board the International Space Station (ISS) and could be implicated in the vision changes that some astronauts have experienced during spaceflight. The study has implications for people on Earth who suffer from brain disorders, including elevated pressure on the brain. For additional details please see DLR's press release.

"NSBRI is once again breaking new ground on behalf of the U.S. human space program, as we have done before with the Mars 500 study between 2009 and 2011. The :envihab facility offers unique capabilities as a space analog environment and we are delighted to be collaborating with the DLR in addressing a major risk to astronaut health: the visual impairment syndrome," said Dr. Jeffrey P. Sutton, NSBRI's President, CEO and Institute Director.

Dr. Dorit Donoviel, NSBRI Deputy Chief Scientist and Industry Forum Lead, assembled the research team that is using state-of-the-art portable medical devices capable of monitoring brain physiology in real time. These devices have the potential to transform brain health monitoring for patients on Earth such as a Volumetric Induction Phase-Shift Spectroscopy (VIPS) device delivered by Cerebrotech Medical Systems of Pleasanton, California. The VIPS technology non-invasively and continuously monitors fluid shifts inside the brain that can arise from conditions such as progressive swelling or bleeding. In addition, Ornim Medical, based in Kfar Saba, Israel has supplied the c-FLOWTM monitor, an FDA-cleared non-invasive, continuous, real-time, and easy-to-use blood flow brain monitor. Vittamed Corporation, with offices located in Kaunas, Lithuania and Lexington, MA, has also provided a CE-marked non-invasive quantitative absolute intracranial pressure meter.

These innovative devices, along with sophisticated MRI imaging and standard transcranial Doppler measurements, are revealing neurological changes following prolonged exposure to simulated spaceflight conditions. In addition, a newly developed battery of cognitive and neurological tests called Cognition is being tested to assess the concomitant effects on mental capabilities and behavior. Cognition was first developed for astronaut use by NSBRI-funded researchers at the University of Pennsylvania and is now being tested on the ISS as well as in numerous research studies throughout the world. In the near future, this battery of tests is likely to be used to clinically evaluate patients with various brain impairments or disorders.

Dr. Rupert Gerzer, Director of the DLR's Institute of Aerospace Medicine declared, "I am thrilled with this collaborative project that focuses on a real ‘space syndrome' that must be understood and solved before we can send humans to space for really long missions beyond Earth. This project is also a breakthrough as a novel way of using a unique ‘terrestrial analog to the ISS', :envihab, in joint international studies that focus on important health challenges of astronauts as well as of patients on Earth."

The study began on June 15 and will run through July 1. Six healthy middle-aged men have volunteered to be subjects. The results will be published via a series of scientific papers, and the lessons learned from the study will be presented to the international space medicine community at scientific conferences.

About NSBRI
Established in 1997 through a NASA competition, NSBRI is headquartered at Baylor College of Medicine, in the Texas Medical Center and is a consortium of twelve leading biomedical institutions. NSBRI, a 501(c)(3) organization partnered with NASA, is studying the health risks related to long-duration spaceflight and developing the technologies and countermeasures needed for human space exploration missions. The Institute's science, technology and career development projects take place at approximately 60 institutions across the United States. For more information, please visit www.nsbri.org. The Industry Forum engages the private sector to develop medical products for both space and Earth through commercialization activities and seed funding. Find out more at www.NSBRIforum.org and follow the NSBRI Industry Forum on Twitter and Facebook.

About DLR
DLR (German Aerospace Center) is the national aeronautics and space research center of the Federal Republic of Germany. Its extensive research and development work in aeronautics, space, energy, transport and security is integrated into national and international cooperative ventures. In addition to its own research, as Germany's space agency, DLR has been given responsibility by the federal government for the planning and implementation of the German space program. DLR is also the umbrella organization for the nation's largest project management agency. DLR has approximately 8000 employees at 16 locations in Germany: Cologne (headquarters), Augsburg, Berlin, Bonn, Braunschweig, Bremen, Goettingen, Hamburg, Juelich, Lampoldshausen, Neustrelitz, Oberpfaffenhofen, Stade, Stuttgart, Trauen, and Weilheim. DLR also has offices in Brussels, Paris, Tokyo and Washington D.C.

DLR's mission comprises the exploration of Earth and the Solar System and research for protecting the environment. This includes the development of environment-friendly technologies for energy supply and future mobility, as well as for communications and security. DLR's research portfolio ranges from fundamental research to the development of products for tomorrow. In this way, DLR contributes the scientific and technical expertise that it has acquired to the enhancement of Germany as a location for industry and technology. DLR operates major research facilities for its own projects and as a service for clients and partners. It also fosters the development of the next generation of researchers, provides expert advisory services to government and is a driving force in the regions where its facilities are located.

NASA, NSBRI Select 24 Proposals to Support Crew Health of Astronauts on Deep Space Missions

HOUSTON – (May 21, 2015) — NASA's Human Research Program (HRP) and the National Space Biomedical Research Institute (NSBRI) will fund 24 proposals to help investigate questions about astronaut health and performance on future deep space exploration missions. The selected proposals will investigate the impact of the space environment on various aspects of astronaut health, including visual impairment, behavioral health, bone loss, cardiovascular alterations, human factors and performance, neurobehavioral and psychosocial factors, sensorimotor adaptation and the development and application of smart medical systems and technologies. All of the selected projects will contribute towards NASA's future missions to Mars.

The selected studies represent how HRP and NSBRI work together to address the practical problems of spaceflight that impact astronaut health. HRP and NSBRI research provides knowledge and technologies that may improve human health and performance during space exploration. They also develop potential countermeasures for problems experienced during space travel. The organizations' goals are to help astronauts complete their challenging missions successfully and preserve their long-term health. This applied research will be conducted in laboratory settings as well as ground-analog settings that mimic the spaceflight environment. Selected studies include one by Dr. Gary Strangman, Associate Professor at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, who will design, develop, and test a near infrared spectroscopy-electroencephalography system for sleep research in a realistic spaceflight analog environment. Dr. Valerie Meyers, a toxicologist at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, will examine the effects of carbon dioxide on cognitive performance in high-level decision-making in astronaut-like populations. Dr. Benjamin Levine, Professor in Internal Medicine at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, will assess the risk of atrial fibrillation in crewmembers participating in long-duration spaceflight missions.

The selected proposals are from 21 institutions in 11 states and will receive a total of about $12.9 million during a one- to three-year period. The 24 projects were selected from 178 proposals received in response to the research announcement entitled, "Research and Technology Development to Support Crew Health and Performance in Space Exploration Missions." Science and technology experts from academia and government reviewed the proposals. NASA will manage 17 of the projects and NSBRI will manage seven. Six of the investigators are new to HRP and NSBRI.

HRP quantifies crew health and performance risks during spaceflight and develops strategies that mission planners and system developers can use to monitor and mitigate the risks. These studies often lead to advancements in understanding and treating illnesses in patients on Earth.

NSBRI is a NASA-funded consortium of institutions studying health risks related to long-duration spaceflight. The Institute's science, technology and career development projects take place at approximately 60 institutions across the United States.

Listed below is the complete list of the selected proposals, principal investigators and organizations:

NASA Awards
  • Dr. Dorrit Billman, San Jose State University Research Foundation, "Training for Generalizable Skills & Knowledge: Integrating Principles and Procedures"
  • Dr. Kim Binsted, University of Hawaii, "Using Analog Missions to Develop Effective Team Composition Strategies for Long Duration Space Exploration"
  • Dr. Mary Bouxsein, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, "Vertebral Strength and Fracture Risk Following Long Duration Spaceflight"
  • Ms. Toni Clark, NASA Johnson Space Center, "Computational Modeling to Limit the Impact Displays and Indicator Lights Have on Habitable Volume Operational Lighting Constraints"
  • Dr. Noshir Contractor, Northwestern University, "CREWS: Crew Recommender for Effective Work in Space"
  • Prof. Leslie DeChurch, Georgia Institute of Technology, "SCALE: Shared Cognitive Architectures for Long-term Exploration"
  • Dr. Douglas Ebert, Wyle Laboratories, "Evaluation of an Impedance Threshold Device as a VIIP Countermeasure"
  • Dr. Edward Foegeding, North Carolina State University, "High-Protein And Polyphenol Bar Formulations: Utilizing Whey Protein-Polyphenol Ingredients"
  • Dr. Adam Gonzalez, State University Of New York, Stony Brook, "Asynchronous Techniques for the Delivery of Empirically Supported Psychotherapies"
  • Dr. Kritina Holden, Lockheed Martin, "Electronic Procedures for Crewed Missions Beyond Low Earth Orbit (LEO)"
  • Dr. Benjamin Levine, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, "Integrated Cardiovascular (ICV) 2.0: Assessing the Risk for Atrial Fibrillation in Astronauts During Long Duration Spaceflight"
  • Dr. Steven Lockley, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, "Lighting Protocols for Exploration – HERA Campaign"
  • Dr. Valerie Meyers, NASA Johnson Space Center, "Effects of Acute Exposures to Carbon Dioxide upon Cognitive Functions"
  • Dr. Greg Perlman, State University of New York, Stony Brook, "Personality and Biological Predictors of Resiliency to Chronic Stress among High-Achieving Adults"
  • Dr. Raphael Rose, University of California, Los Angeles, "Asynchronous Behavioral Health Treatment Techniques"
  • Dr. Jeffrey Ryder, Universities Space Research Association, "Sweat Rates During Continuous and Interval Aerobic Exercise: Implications for NASA Multipurpose Crew Vehicle (MPCV) Missions"
  • Dr. Richard Simpson, University of Houston, "The Impact of Modeled Microgravity and Prior Radiation Exposure on Cytomegalovirus Reactivation and Host Immune Evasion"
NSBRI Awards
  • Dr. Henry Donahue, Pennsylvania State University, "Somatic Mutations in Muscle and Bone Exposed to Simulated Space Radiation and Microgravity Dr. Robert Hienz, Johns Hopkins University, "Countermeasures for Neurobehavioral Vulnerabilities to Space Radiation"
  • Dr. Robert Hienz, Johns Hopkins University, "Countermeasures for Neurobehavioral Vulnerabilities to Space Radiation"
  • Dr. Jonathan Lindner, Oregon Health & Science University, "Biomarker Assessment for Identifying Heightened Risk for Cardiovascular Complications During Long-duration Space Missions"
  • Dr. Brandon Macias, University Of California, San Diego, "Validation of a Cephalad Fluid Shift Countermeasure"
  • Ms. Debra Schreckenghost, TRACLabs, "Quantifying and Developing Countermeasures for the Effect of Fatigue-Related Stressors on Automation Use and Trust during Robotic Supervisory Control"
  • Dr. Gary Strangman, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, "Sleep Electroencephalography and Near-Infrared Spectroscopy Measurements for Spaceflight and Analogs"
  • Dr. Gary Strangman, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, "Testing Mechanical Countermeasures for Cephalad Fluid Shifts"

“First In Humans” Clinical Trial Demonstrates Non-Invasive Expulsion of Kidney Stones

NSBRI-Funded Ultrasound Technology Requires No Surgery

HOUSTON – (May 19, 2015) — The National Space Biomedical Research Institute (NSBRI) announced that Dr. Jonathan Harper will present the findings of an FDA-registered “first in humans” trial to non-surgically propel and expel kidney stones from the body, during today’s plenary session at the 2015 American Urological Association (AUA) annual meeting in New Orleans.

Dr. Harper and his colleagues in the Department of Urology and Applied Physics Laboratory at the University of Washington have invented a new way to facilitate kidney stone passage or dislodge large obstructing stones, using ultrasound. With one probe placed on the patient’s skin, a physician can target the stone on the system’s ultrasound image. The system focuses ultrasound waves on the stone, which makes the stone “hop” to a new location. Importantly, ultrasound technology does not expose patients to x-rays or other forms of ionizing radiation. Fifteen volunteers with various body sizes presenting with stones of as large as 14 mm and from all regions of the kidney were included in the clinical trial. Kidney stones were moved in all but one subject.

Dr. Jonathan Harper said, “I am excited about presenting our findings at this year‘s AUA annual meeting. Not only does our ultrasound technology safely move and expel kidney stones, but also it is performed in the clinic setting without pain. The impact of this technology on the US healthcare system is substantial because more Americans experience nephrolithiasis, or kidney stone disease, than develop diabetes or heart disease. Kidney stones cause severe pain, obstruction of the urinary tract, and loss of worker productivity. The use of ultrasound technology to move kidney stones is a major advance with broad clinical utility for people on Earth.”

This clinical trial has been advanced with funding from NSBRI, as a project within the portfolio of the Institute’s Smart Medical Systems and Technology (SMST) Team. The goal of the SMST Team is to develop intelligent, integrated medical systems to deliver quality health care during spaceflight and exploration. New technologies developed by this team also deliver immediate benefits for medical care on Earth.

During space flight, microgravity, dehydration, and altered bone metabolism collectively increase the likelihood of an astronaut developing a kidney stone,” said Jeffrey P. Sutton, M.D., Ph.D. - NSBRI’s President, CEO and Institute Director. Kidney stones have been observed in U.S. astronauts before and after spaceflight and one Russian cosmonaut reported abdominal pain on orbit which was suspected to be due to a kidney stone; however, the pain resolved within a few days. Non-invasive approaches to move and ultimately expel kidney stones from the body provide medical capabilities needed by NASA and other international space agencies. If stones can be moved and then passed while they are relatively small, downstream complications such as infection and sepsis that could end space missions may be avoided.

Ultrasound technologies have been successfully used for many years on the International Space Station (ISS), primarily to perform imaging of the astronauts’ eyes, bones, and internal organs. The successful outcome of this clinical trial mitigates the risk of renal stone formation, as identified on NASA’s Human Research Roadmap, and augments existing ISS ultrasound techniques and protocols. Technologies and countermeasures are tested on the ISS as a forerunner to deployment on future exploration mission to Mars or other deep space destinations. Since astronauts on long-duration, deep space missions will be unable to return quickly to Earth, new methods of remote medical diagnosis, monitoring and treatment are necessary. On exploration missions, it is also possible that medical procedures may be performed by a non-physician astronaut, and therefore techniques to deal with medical emergencies, such as kidney stones, must be simple to administer, robust, and highly effective.

About NSBRI

Established in 1997 through a NASA competition, NSBRI is headquartered at Baylor College of Medicine, in the Texas Medical Center and is a consortium of twelve leading biomedical institutions. NSBRI, a 501(c) (3) organization partnered with NASA, is studying the health risks related to long-duration spaceflight and developing the technologies and countermeasures needed for human space exploration missions. The Institute's science, technology and career development projects take place at approximately 60 institutions across the United States. For more information, please visit www.nsbri.org. The Industry Forum engages the private sector to develop medical products for both space and Earth through commercialization activities and seed funding. Find out more at www.NSBRIforum.organd follow the NSBRI Industry Forum on Twitter and Facebook.

About UW Medicine

UW Medicine's mission is to improve the health of the public by advancing medical knowledge, providing patient care, and training the next generation of health professionals. Our system includes Harborview Medical Center, Northwest Hospital & Medical Center, Valley Medical Center, UW Medical Center, UW Neighborhood Clinics, UW Physicians, UW School of Medicine and Airlift Northwest.

For more information on the AUA annual meeting and to see a full schedule, visit www.aua2015.org.

NASA and NSBRI Request for Information (RFI) on Topics Supporting Crew Health and Performance

NASA’s Human Research Program (HRP) investigates and mitigates the highest risks to astronaut health and performance in exploration missions. The goal of the HRP is to provide human health and performance countermeasures, knowledge, technologies, and tools to enable safe, reliable, and productive human space exploration, and to ensure safe and productive human spaceflight. The scope of these goals includes both the successful completion of exploration missions and the preservation of astronaut health over the life of the astronaut. The National Space Biomedical Research Institute, (NSBRI) leads a national effort to conduct the integrated, critical path, biomedical research necessary to support long-term human presence, development and exploration of space and enhances life on Earth by applying the resulting advances in human knowledge and technology.

To support formulation of a solicitation scheduled to be released in July 2015, NASA and NSBRI are seeking feedback regarding potential research topics. Specifically, NASA and NSBRI wish to know:

  1. Are the correct research emphases being asked to meet the goals of the Program?  ---  based on the research plan associated with each of the major risks addressed by the Program, as embodied in the gaps and tasks planned to carry out that plan (http://humanresearchroadmap.nasa.gov).
  2. Is each topic sufficiently well-defined, clear and unambiguous?

Access to NASA’s human life sciences data can assist the research community in providing a better understanding of the appropriate strategies required to mitigate spaceflight-related health risks. If interested in learning about and accessing this data, please visit the Users’ Guide for requesting data at: http://lsda.jsc.nasa.gov/common/dataRequestFAQ.aspx.

The full text of the RFI and response instructions can be found at: http://tinyurl.com/15-CrewHealthRFI. Responses must be submitted electronically using the NSPIRES web site. This RFI is open to responses from all parties including commercial entities, international organizations, academia, NASA Centers, and other government agencies.

The information obtained will be used by NASA and NSBRI for planning and acquisition strategy development. NASA and NSBRI will use the information obtained as a result of this RFI on a non-attribution basis. Providing data and information that is limited or restricted for use by NASA or NSBRI for that purpose would be of very little value and such restricted/limited data/information is not solicited. No information or questions received will be posted to any website or public access location. NASA and NSBRI do not plan to respond to the individual responses. The Government does not intend to award an award on the basis of this RFI or to otherwise pay for the information solicited.

New SMARTCAP funding opportunity announced

Administering health care in space demands innovative biomedical solutions. The National Space Biomedical Research Institute (NSBRI) meets this need through the Space Medical and Related Technologies Commercialization Assistance Program (SMARTCAP), a grant opportunity that supports small companies developing products to keep astronauts healthy in space. The technologies must also make a major impact for patients on Earth.

To receive a SMARTCAP grant, recipients must raise a 100 percent match from a non-federal source which leverages the public dollars spent on the technology and fosters public-private partnerships.

High-priority areas of interest to the U.S. human space program can be found at http://www.nsbri.org/SCIENCE-and-TECHNOLOGY/ and at http://humanresearchroadmap.nasa.gov/Risks/.

Building on its previous success, NSBRI is now soliciting applications from small, U.S.-based companies for its eighth SMARTCAP cycle. If you believe that your product can meaningfully impact a space-relevant biomedical issue, please consider applying for a SMARTCAP grant. To be considered during the upcoming grant cycle (May-October, 2015), the two-page initial application must be received no later than 5 p.m. Central Time, on June 26, 2015. Other grant cycle deadlines, submission guidelines, and additional information regarding SMARTCAP can be found at www.smartcap.org.

NASA Announces Release of the GeneLab Data System

NASA is announcing the release of the GeneLab Data System 1.0, the first version of NASA's open-access, online searchable data repository for Space Biology experiments. The GeneLab platform seeks to enhance the use of the International Space Station derived data for development of next generation research. This open access repository for spaceflight data will help to maximize the scientific return from the limited number of biological research opportunities in space. This open access data approach will help to foster innovation and discovery leading to advances for NASA Exploration and Earth-based benefit.

The scientific community is invited to log on to the GeneLab Data System, browse and download data, and to submit new data. Contributions are highly valued and enable the evolution of the data system. Users are also invited to provide feedback, through the Data System, to continually update and improve the capabilities and utility of GeneLab.

The data system can be found online at: http://genelab.nasa.gov/data.

More information about GeneLab can also be found in the GeneLab Strategic plan PDF.

New NASA Specialized Centers of Research (NSCORs) in Space Radiation

NASA Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center (JSC) has released NASA Research Announcement (NRA) NNJ14ZSA001N-NSCOR, entitled "NASA Specialized Centers of Research (NSCORs) for Ground-Based Studies Assessing Cancer Risks from Space Radiation and the Impact of Individual Susceptibility."

A NSCOR consists of a team of investigators who have complementary skills and who work together to answer a closely focused set of research questions with the goal of achieving overall research progress that is greater than the sum of the progress achievable by each project individually. The home laboratories of NSCOR team members may be geographically contiguous or dispersed, as long as the team members have a mechanism for working together. The research will be conducted using the NASA Space Radiation Laboratory (NSRL), a ground-based irradiation facility at Brookhaven National Laboratory, in Upton, NY.

The full text of the solicitation appendix is available on the NASA Research Opportunities homepage.

Step-1 proposals are due June 15, 2015. Invited Step-2 proposals are due September 10, 2015.

The village of Chautara, Nepal as seen from space. Image credit: Google Earth

DHS and NASA Technology Helps Save Four in Nepal Earthquake Disaster

Press Release Issued by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate Washington, D.C. - Four men trapped under as much as 10 feet of bricks, mud and other debris have been rescued in Nepal thanks to a new search-and-rescue technology developed in partnership by the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). The device called FINDER (Finding Individuals for Disaster and Emergency Response) uses microwave-radar technology to detect heartbeats of victims trapped in wreckage. Following the April 25 earthquake in Nepal, two prototype FINDER devices were deployed to support search and rescue teams in the stricken areas.

It's very gratifying to see technology developed at JPL being used to save lives.

Jim Lux, task manager for the FINDER project at JPL

"The true test of any technology is how well it works in a real-life operational setting," said DHS Under Secretary for Science and Technology Dr. Reginald Brothers. "Of course, no one wants disasters to occur, but tools like this are designed to help when our worst nightmares do happen. I am proud that we were able to provide the tools to help rescue these four men."

The men had been trapped beneath the rubble for days in the hard-hit village of Chautara. David Lewis, president of one of S&T's commercial partners, R4 Inc. out of Eatontown, N.J., arrived in Nepal with two prototype FINDER devices on April 29 to assist in the rescue efforts. He joined a contingent of international rescuers from China, the Netherlands, Belgium and members of the Nepali Army in Northern Nepal. Using FINDER, they were able to detect two heartbeats beneath each of two different collapsed structures, allowing the rescue workers to find and save the men.

"NASA technology plays many roles: driving exploration, protecting the lives of our astronauts and improving--even saving--the lives of people on Earth," said Dr. David Miller, NASA's chief technologist at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "FINDER exemplifies how technology designed for space exploration has profound impacts to life on Earth."

The FINDER device will be demonstrated on Thursday, May 7, at the Virginia Task Force One Training Facility in Lorton, Va. At this event, which was scheduled long before the Nepali earthquake, S&T and JPL will demonstrate the technology with the assistance of members of Virginia Task Force One. They will also announce its official transition to commercial enterprise where the devices can be manufactured and made available to search and rescue teams around the world.

FINDER has previously demonstrated capabilities of detect people buried under up to 30 feet of rubble, hidden behind 20 feet of solid concrete, and from a distant of 100 feet in open spaces. A new "locator" feature has since been added to not only provide search and rescue responders with confirmation of a heartbeat, but also the approximate location of trapped individuals within about five feet, depending on the type of rubble.

Information for media about the demonstration on Thursday, May 7:

WHO: John Price, Program Manager, First Responders Group, DHS S&T

Jim Lux, FINDER Task Manager, Communications Tracking and Radar Division, NASA JPL

Chuck Ryan, Deputy Chief, Virginia Task Force One

Randal Bittinger, Captain, Fairfax Fire & Rescue Department

WHAT: Demonstration of the FINDER technology in a simulated post-disaster search and rescue scenario

WHEN: May 7, 2015, 10:30 AM EDT

WHERE: Virginia Task Force One Training Facility
9850 Furnace Road (use 9900 for GPS - and follow event signs)
Lorton, Va. 22079

Reporters planning to attend should RSVP to Stacey Levitt; (202) 254-6769. Additional background information about FINDER can be found at http://www.dhs.gov/detecting-heartbeats-rubble-dhs-and-nasa-team-save-victims-disasters

Media Contact
DHS Science & Technology Press Office, John Verrico (202) 254-2385
NASA Headquarters Press Office: Joshua Buck (202) 358-1130
NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Elizabeth Landau (818) 354-6425

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Two emergency response officers with the FINDER instrument

FINDER Rescues Four People Trapped In Nepal

The Homeland Security Today (5/6) reports that the Finding Individuals for Disaster and Emergency Response (FINDER), developed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate, was instrumental in rescuing “four men trapped under as much as 10 feet of bricks, mud and other debris.” The men were trapped because of the earthquake that struck Nepal. DHS Under Secretary for Science and Technology Reginald Brothers said, “The true test of any technology is how well it works in a real-life operational setting. ... Of course, no one wants disasters to occur, but tools like this are designed to help when our worst nightmares do happen. I am proud that we were able to provide the tools to help rescue these four men.” NASA Chief Technologist David Miller added, “NASA technology plays many roles: driving exploration, protecting the lives of our astronauts and improving—even saving—the lives of people on Earth. ... FINDER exemplifies how technology designed for space exploration has profound impacts to life on Earth.”

NASA Research Announcement Extension

The Step-1 due date for NASA Research Announcement (NRA) NNJ14ZSA001N-NSCOR, entitled "NASA Specialized Centers of Research (NSCORs) for Ground-Based Studies Assessing Cancer Risks from Space Radiation and the Impact of Individual Susceptibility" has been extended to June 22, 2015, 5PM ET. All other solicitation dates remained unchanged.

An NSCOR consists of a team of investigators who have complementary skills and who work together to answer a closely focused set of research questions with the goal of achieving overall research progress that is greater than the sum of the progress achievable by each project individually. The home laboratories of NSCOR team members may be geographically contiguous or dispersed, as long as the team members have a mechanism for working together. The research will be conducted using the NASA Space Radiation Laboratory (NSRL), a ground-based irradiation facility at Brookhaven National Laboratory, in Upton, NY. This response area is Appendix F of the Human Exploration Research Opportunities (HERO) NRA (NNJ14ZSA001N).

The full text of the solicitation appendix is available on the NASA Research Opportunities homepage.

Invited Step-2 proposals are due September 10, 2015.

Potential applicants are urged to access this site well in advance of the proposal due date to familiarize themselves with its structure and to register in the system. Proposals solicited through this NRA will use a two-step proposal process. Only Step-1 proposers determined to be relevant with respect to the Research Emphases outlined in Section(I)(G) of this NRA will be invited to submit full Step-2 proposals. Step-2 proposals must be compliant with respect to all sections of this NRA or they will be declined without review. Proposals must be submitted electronically.