Biomedical Research and Public Health Collaborations with NASA

Space Exploration Relevance in Biomedical and Public Health Research

NCATS is the home for collaborations on biomedical research and public health with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). NCATS coordinates, fosters and develops research relationships that advance the goals of NIH, the broader U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and NASA for the broad benefit of human health.

For more information, email Lucie Low, Ph.D., NIH-NASA liaison point of contact.

photo of space shuttle in orbit

Read about why we would consider doing space-based biomedical research from former NCATS Director Christopher P. Austin.

NIH-NASA Collaboration

NIH and NASA have an ongoing collaboration to explore how space and Earth-based biomedical research can benefit human health here on Earth as well as address the challenges of health in low Earth orbit (LEO) and during deep space exploration missions. The collaboration encourages space-related biomedical research through the exchange of expertise, data, and scientific and technical information with NASA’s Division of Biological and Physical Sciences (BPS). Here’s a brief history of the collaboration.

NIH and NASA work together to coordinate funding and collaboration opportunities, workshops and conferences, special interest groups and other activities across agencies. For more information, see a list of activities as well as NCATS’ collaborative workspace.

HHS-NASA Collaboration

In 2018, NCATS’ director, Christopher P. Austin, M.D., was appointed the liaison to NASA for HHS. In this capacity, Austin and his team at NCATS coordinated interactions and expertise sharing among components of HHS to explore joint areas of interest. In January 2021, HHS appointed staff members to centralize the partnership and ensure continuity between administrations. NCATS remains as a leader in these efforts, working alongside NASA and HHS staff to coordinate activities. Here’s a brief history of the collaboration.

In the Spotlight

NCATS collaborated with The Children's Inn at NIH, the Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) and the International Space Station U.S. National Laboratory (ISS National Lab) to host Ask an Astronaut: Biomedical Science Edition. The event took place Monday, September 23, 2019, at The Children’s Inn on the NIH Campus in Bethesda, Maryland.

This unique experience provided children receiving care at NIH the opportunity to talk to an astronaut in space. Participants learned about the importance of conducting biomedical research in a microgravity environment, including NCATS’ Tissue Chips in Space projects that recently completed their first mission to the ISS.

Ask an astronaut in space. A partnership with NIH's NCATS. the Childrens Inn at NIH, ISS U.S. Laboratory and ARISS