Tissue Chip Program Collaborations and Partnerships

Collaborations are vital to the success of the Tissue Chip for Drug Screening program. This innovative technology encompasses expertise from multiple fields, including bioengineering, stem cell technology, organ physiology, pharmacology, toxicology, pathology and regulatory science.

The Tissue Chip for Drug Screening program began in 2010 as a five-year partnership among NIH, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Since 2012, the program has been led and managed by NCATS, which harnesses expertise in a variety of disciplines from many collaborators to rapidly advance tissue chip research. Learn more about the history of the program.

Read about current collaborations and partnerships:

NCATS continues to work with new program researchers, government officials and industry partners to ensure project goals are met and to identify and address any needs or obstacles that arise. If you are interested in collaborating with the Tissue Chip for Drug Screening program, contact Danilo Tagle, Ph.D.

Photo Credit: University of Washington Photo
A kidney-on-a-chip under the microscope in the University of Washington School of Pharmacy.

NIH Collaboration
NIH Institutes and Centers

Nearly all of NCATS’ tissue chip initiatives involve collaboration with other NIH Institutes and Centers. The most recent initiative, Clinical Trials on a Chip, which launched in 2020, is led by NCATS in conjunction with the National Cancer Institute, the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, and the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases.

Additionally, because of the wide breadth of expertise required to manage the Tissue Chip program as a whole, a trans-NIH Microphysiological Systems (MPS) working group convenes monthly to discuss and oversee the progress of each project and award. The working group is composed of nearly 60 program officials representing more than 15 NIH Institutes and Centers.*

Other Federal Agencies

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

NIH and NASA have an ongoing collaboration to explore how biomedical research using tissue chips can benefit human health in space and on Earth. NCATS has facilitated wide-ranging collaborative interactions with NASA, and NASA is a critical partner in the Tissue Chips in Space initiative, along with the International Space Station National Laboratory.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)

Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA):
Through a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), BARDA is collaborating with NCATS on a program to enhance existing tissue chips by adding immune function and tissue sensors.
Learn more about the program.

U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA):
NCATS and the FDA have collaborated extensively and in a variety of ways since the beginning of the Tissue Chip for Drug Screening program. Most recently, the FDA has provided key regulatory guidance to NIH tissue chip grantees.
Learn more about FDA’s work to advance alternative methods to traditional toxicity and efficacy testing, including tissue chips.

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

NCATS executed an MOU with the VA’s Office of Research and Development that provides an avenue for tissue chip developers to collaborate with intramural VA researchers investigating the use of tissue chips for addressing the health needs of veterans.

Nonprofit Organizations

International Space Station (ISS) National Laboratory

The ISS National Lab is collaborating with NCATS to refine tissue chip technology for biomedical research use on the space station. Tissue chip applications at the ISS National Lab enable studies of organs at the cellular and tissue level under reduced gravity, which will contribute to our understanding of the process of aging and could reveal molecular targets that can slow that process.
Learn more about the Tissue Chips in Space initiative.

International Consortium for Innovation and Quality in Pharmaceutical Development (IQ Consortium)

NIH-funded tissue chip researchers and the IQ Consortium are working together to further test and develop the tissue chip devices and to discuss marketability and other industry logistics.

As a resource for investigators, the IQ Microphysiological Systems Affiliate has developed a series of publications documenting industry-wide requirements and recommendations for assessing tissue chip performance for a given organ system.

Tissue Chip Consortium

NCATS relies on the expertise of many specialists representing NIH, other government agencies and partner organizations. NCATS’ interaction with the IQ Consortium enables pharmaceutical companies to work with NCATS staff and Tissue Chip for Drug Screening program–funded investigators on context of use, marketability and potential stakeholder feedback — elements crucial to moving past the discovery and innovation phase and increasing community adoption of microphysiological systems. The Tissue Chip Consortium, which comprises these partnerships, the Tissue Chip for Drug Screening program–funded investigators, as well as several new industry collaborators, meets every six months and plays a pivotal role in advancing this technology.


tissue chip

Photo Credit:
Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering, Harvard University
This lung-on-a-chip serves as an accurate model of human lungs to test for drug safety and efficacy.


*NCATS acknowledges the following NIH Institutes for their contribution to this trans-NIH program: the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development; the National Cancer Institute; the National Eye Institute; the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute; the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases; the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases; the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering; the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research; the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases; the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences; the National Institute of General Medical Sciences; the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke; the National Institute of Nursing Research; and the National Institute on Drug Abuse. NIH’s Common Fund and National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke initially led trans-NIH efforts to establish the program.