Tissue Chip in Action

NCATS, along with other NIH Institutes and Centers and the Food and Drug Administration, leads the development and integration of 3-D platforms engineered to support living human tissues and cells, called tissue chips or organs-on-chips. Read the latest news about the Tissue Chip program below.

January 2023

New 3-D Model Offers Insights into the Role of Glucose in a Deadly Kidney Disease
Researchers from the University of Washington School of Medicine combined organ-in-a-dish and organ-on-a-chip technologies to better understand the biology of polycystic kidney disease (PKD) and show the role of glucose in forming PKD cysts. This approach could lead to better ways to test drugs and develop treatments for PKD and perhaps other diseases.

September 2022

Researchers Develop New Ways to Test Treatments for Kidney Diseases
To help accelerate treatments for kidney disease and better understand kidney development and function, NCATS-funded researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston turned to human pluripotent stem cells. The scientists used the stem cells to develop a faster, simpler approach to create one of the two key cell types that are the building blocks of kidney tissues. This building block can mature into the adult kidney collecting system, which is involved in the body’s electrolyte and fluid balance.

March 2022

Your Mouth on a Chip: Cell-Loaded Microchips Offer a New Lens into Human Biology
Researchers at the University of Rochester are developing salivary gland tissue chips to accelerate the search for drugs that could protect glands from side effects of radiation therapy for head and neck cancers. The research is co-supported by NCATS and the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research as part of the Tissue Chip for Drug Screening program.

November 2021

Lung Tissue Chips Could Help Predict Future Infectious Influenza Disease Variants
NCATS-funded researchers at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University used lung tissue chips to replicate how influenza viruses evolve, potentially sharpening predictions about future infectious influenza disease variants.

December 2020

Tissue Chip Trio to Orbit Earth for Answers to Osteoarthritis and Muscle Diseases
Three tissue chip experiments exploring osteoarthritis, muscle wasting and heart tissue damage will launch into space for the Tissue Chips in Space initiative.

March 2020

The Beat Goes On — Even 258 Miles Above Earth
By using tissue chips to model cardiac dysfunction in space, researchers can advance heart disease research on Earth.

April 2019

NCATS-Supported Scientists Model Aging-Related Conditions in Space to Improve Human Health on Earth
NCATS-supported researchers sent miniaturized tissue chip systems to the International Space Station National Laboratory on May 4. Four projects using the tissue chip systems aim to speed both the study of aging-related conditions and the development of treatments for them.

February 2019

NCATS-Supported Researchers Find Cell Source Matters for Tissue Chips
Researchers from the Tissue Chip Testing Center at Texas A&M University have evaluated a kidney-on-a-chip developed by researchers at the University of Washington and Nortis Bio. The kidney chip was able to perform the same functions as real kidneys, helping to bridge the gap between the development of this innovative technology and its actual use.

December 2018

NCATS Announces NIH HEAL Initiative-Related Funding Opportunities
NCATS announced several new funding opportunities through The NIH Helping to End Addiction Long-termSM Initiative, or NIH HEAL InitiativeSM. Selected applicants through RFA-TR-19-003 will receive funding to create and test devices that can model the mechanisms or effects of pain-relevant signaling, addiction or opioid use disorders using human tissues in tissue- and organ-on-chip systems. NCATS intends to commit approximately $5 million in fiscal year 2019 to fund four to six awards.

Tissue Chip Researchers Create a Working Model of a Heart Chamber
Researchers supported by NCATS’ Tissue Chip for Drug Screening program have developed a 3-D working model of a human heart chamber.

NIH-Funded Tissue Chips Rocket to International Space Station
Led by NCATS through its Tissue Chips in Space initiative, researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, developed the immune system chip to explore the relationship between aging and immune responses and to look for possible ways to slow the aging process.

November 2018

Tissue Chips in Space: A Giant Leap Forward for Research
NCATS-supported researchers, in collaboration with the International Space Station U.S. National Laboratory (ISS National Lab) and the NASA, are testing tissue- and organ-on-chips devices to see how human cells inside these devices respond to stresses, drugs and genetic changes in space. 

October 2018

On Oct. 24, 2018, NCATS, NIBIB and ISS National Lab announced four new Tissue Chips in Space awards designed to study tissue- and organs-on-chips that mimic major organs and systems in the human body in the extreme environment of space at the ISS-NL. Scientists will use this information to assess biomarkers, bioavailability, efficacy and toxicity of therapeutic agents prior to clinical trials.

September 2018

NCATS and the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) issued three five-year awards for tissue chip systems that model type 2 diabetes. In addition, NCATS renewed funding for two Tissue Chip Testing Centers and a database center.

August 2018

NIH-Supported Researchers Use Robots, Stem Cells to Produce Organ Models
Researchers at the University of Washington, supported by NCATS and the NIDDK, created an automated procedure for producing kidney organoids on a large scale and in a format that works with current screening tools used in drug discovery.

July 2018

NCATS announced the availability of administrative supplements for Tissue Chip Consortium awardees to develop tissue chip models for pain, opioid addiction and overdose.

May 2018

NIH-Supported Scientists Uncover Clues to Spinal Cord Development, Neurodegenerative Disease
Researchers at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, supported by NCATS and the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, used stem cells and tissue chips to mimic conditions in the early human spinal cord. The results could provide a better understanding of the development of some neurodegenerative diseases.

March 2018

NCATS Supports Award-Winning Technology for Drug Development
NCATS supports an innovative platform technology to precisely deliver nutrients and hormones to cells for a preclinical therapeutics testing program. The adaptability of the technology to other translational science applications led to additional funding for its commercialization and supports NCATS’ goal of making drug development more efficient.

December 2017

CASIS, NCATS, and the NIBIB Announce International Space Station Funding Opportunity Focused on Human Physiology Research
NIH issued a funding opportunity for tissue- and organ-on-chip research at the International Space Station National Laboratory to study human physiology and disease. Data from this research — which will feature “tissue chips” (or “organs-on-chips”) — will help scientists develop and advance novel technologies to improve human health.

September 2017

NIH Awards $15 million to Support Development of 3-D Human Tissue Models
In September 2017, NCATS announced 13 awards to develop 3-D tissue chip research platforms that model disease and test drug efficacy prior to clinical trials. Through the Tissue Chips for Disease Modeling and Efficacy Testing initiative, the Tissue Chip awardees will study a wide range of common and rare diseases. In the second phase of the awards, researchers will partner with pharmaceutical companies to further evaluate the usefulness of validated disease models — those that accurately mimic disease biology — in assessing the effectiveness of candidate drugs.  

June 2017

CASIS and NCATS Announce Five Projects Selected from International Space Station Funding Opportunity Focused on Human Physiology Research
NCATS issued five initial two-year awards in response to a funding opportunity to use tissue chip technology for translational research onboard the International Space Station ― National Laboratory (ISS-NL) for the benefit of human health on Earth. During the first phase of the Tissue Chips in Space initiative, researchers will develop and test tissue chips on the ISS-NL in a microgravity environment. In the second phase, they will further demonstrate the functional use of the tissue chip models for more defined experiments on the ISS-NL.

March 2017

Female Menstrual Cycle in a Dish
NCATS-supported researchers create female menstrual cycle in a dish. Northwestern Medicine scientists describe their development of a miniature female reproductive tract in research published in Nature Communications. The tract fits in the palm of a hand and could eventually change the future of scientific discovery and treatment of diseases in women’s reproductive organs. This new 3-D technology — called EVATAR — is made with human tissue and will enable scientists to conduct much-needed testing of new drugs for safety and effectiveness on the female reproductive system.

October 2016

NCATS to Fund Next Phase of Tissue Chip for Drug Screening Program
NCATS announced a Tissue Chips for Disease Modeling and Efficacy Testing funding opportunity to support further development of tissue chip models of human disease that mimic the pathology in major human organs and tissues.

NCATS to Support Tissue Chip for Drug Screening Testing Centers
On Oct. 13, 2016, NCATS announced awards for three Tissue Chip Testing Centers that provide a way for tissue chips developed through the program to be independently tested and validated. These efforts will help to promote the adoption of this technology by the broader research community.

NCATS, CASIS Announce Funding Opportunity for Tissue Chip Research in Space
NCATS and the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) are collaborating to use tissue chip technology for translational research at the International Space Station U.S. National Laboratory. In October, NCATS and CASIS announced a funding opportunity aimed at leveraging recent tissue engineering and microfabrication advances to create tissue- and organ-on-chip platforms that mimic human physiology under the extreme environment of space.

August 2015

Modeling the Female Reproductive Tract in 3-D: The Birth of EVATAR™
Researchers are developing a 3-D representation of the female reproductive tract and liver on a handheld, interconnected platform for drug testing.

April 2015

Meet Chip
NCATS releases the Tissue Chip for Drug Screening video and introduces Chip, an interactive way to explore the program and its ongoing work.

September 2014

NIH Funds Next Phase of Tissue Chip for Drug Screening Program
NIH announces awards in the second phase of the Tissue Chip program to improve ways of predicting drug safety and effectiveness. The journal Experimental Biology and Medicine publishes a thematic issue highlighting the Tissue Chip program.

December 2013

Tissue Chip Projects Highlighted in Major Journal
The journal Stem Cell Research & Therapy publishes a supplement highlighting Tissue Chip projects.

July 2012

NIH Funds Development of Tissue Chips to Help Predict Drug Safety
NIH announces the first 17 Tissue Chip award recipients. The projects, aimed at creating 3-D chips with living cells and tissues that accurately model the structure and function of human organs, mark the first interagency collaboration launched by NCATS.

September 2011

NIH, DARPA and FDA Collaborate to Develop Cutting-Edge Technologies to Predict Drug Safety
NIH, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, and the Food and Drug Administration launch the Tissue Chip program.