NASA Selects Research Proposals In Cellular And Macromolecular Biotechnology

Renee Juhans

Headquarters, Washington, DC
(Phone: 202/358-1712)

RELEASE: 01-126

NASA has selected 43 researchers to receive grants totaling approximately $27 million over four years to conduct biotechnology research on Earth and in space. This research will create knowledge in important areas of biotechnology such as tissue engineering, gene expression and biosensor technology.

Sponsored by NASA's Office of Biological and Physical Research, this research offers investigators the opportunity to take advantage of the low-gravity environment of space and develop experiments for the International Space Station.

Twenty-three of the selected proposals are to conduct research in cellular biotechnology including projects on tissue engineering, gene expression and bioanalytical technologies. Twenty of the selected proposals are to conduct research in macromolecular biotechnology including projects on challenging problems in structural biology, artificial biomembranes and membrane proteins. Fourteen of the selected proposals are for the continuation of work currently being funded by NASA, but the majority (29) represent new research efforts.

NASA received 225 proposals in response to its research announcement in this research area. These proposals were all peer- reviewed by scientific and technical experts from academia, government and industry.

List of Selectees by State


Dr. Daniel C. Carter
New Century Pharmaceuticals, Incorporated
Huntsville, AL
"Neutron Diffraction: Microgravity Applications in Structure-Guided 
Drug Development"

Professor Alexander A. Chernov
Universities Space Research Association
Huntsville, AL
"The Role of Impurities and Convection in Macromolecular Crystal 

Dr. Ewa Ciszak
Universities Space Research Association
Huntsville, AL
"Crystal Structure of Human Pyruvate Dehydrogenase Complex 
Facilitated by Microgravity"

Dr. Edward H. Snell
Universities Space Research Association
Huntsville, AL
"Cool Crystals -- A Physical and Biochemical Study of 
Macromolecular Crystal Cryopreservation"

Dr. Peter G. Vekilov
University of Alabama in Huntsville
Huntsville, AL
"Physico-Chemical Tools for Rational Optimization of the Growth 
Conditions of Biological Crystals"


Dr. Bruce C. Towe
Arizona State University
Tempe, AZ
"A Microfluidic Bioreporter for Exploratory Probes"


Professor Geoffrey A. Chang
The Scripps Research Institute
La Jolla, CA
"Crystallization of Integral Membrane Proteins using Micro-gravity"

Dr. Curtis W. Frank
Stanford University
Stanford, CA
"Production and In-Flight Regeneration of Active Biological 

Professor Robert L-Y. Sah
University of California, San Diego
La Jolla, CA
"Fabrication and Growth of Engineered Tissues: Articular Cartilage 
with Biological Functional Stratification"


Dr. David W. M. Marr
Colorado School of Mines
Golden, CO
"A Novel Colloidal Microfluidics Platform for Spaceborne Micro 
Total Analysis Systems"


Dr. Robert E. Akins
A.I. duPont Hospital for Children
Wilmington, DE
"Cell:Cell Mediated Assembly of Cardiac Tissue in Microgravity 

Dr. Eric W. Kaler
University of Delaware
Newark, DE
"Surfactant Structures Guide Membrane Protein Crystallization"

*****District of Columbia

Dr. Wu Ma
Naval Research Laboratory
Washington, DC
"Neurogenesis in a Cell-Hydrogel-Bioreactor System -- Forming 
Neuronal Networks in Microgravity"


Dr. Jeanne L. Becker
University of South Florida
Tampa, FL
"3-D Growth Effects on Drug Resistance in Human Ovarian Tumor 

Dr. Luca Inverardi
University of Miami School of Medicine
Miami, FL
"Cell Transplantation Therapy for Diabetes Utilizing 
Immunoprivileged Sertoli-Islet Cell Aggregates (SICAs)"

Dr. Samuel Saporta
University of South Florida College of Medicine
Tampa, FL
"Creation and Transplantation of Immunoprivileged Sertoli-Neuron-
Aggregated-Cells (SNACs) for the Treatment of Parkinson Disease"


Professor Mark A. Arnold
University of Iowa
Iowa City, IA
"Noninvasive Near-Infrared Monitors for Protein Crystallization and 
Biomedical Systems"


Dr. Ronald S. Kaplan
The Chicago Medical School
North Chicago, IL
"Crystallization of the Mitochondrial Metabolite Transport 


Professor Barbara L. Golden
Purdue University
West Lafayette, IN
"Engineering a Ribozyme for Diffraction Properties"


Dr. Timothy G Hammond
Tulane University Medical Center
New Orleans, LA
"Transcription Factors Mediating Gene Expression Changes During 
Renal Cell Rotating Wall Vessel Culture"

Dr. Cheryl A. Nickerson
Tulane University Medical Center
New Orleans, LA
"Novel Tissue Assemblies: Models for Enteric Pathogenesis"

Professor Kim C. O'Connor
Tulane University
New Orleans, LA
"Spatial Organization within Prostate Cancer Spheroids"


Dr. James L. Harden
Johns Hopkins University
Baltimore, MD
"A Modular Library of Self-Assembling Proteins for Three-
Dimensional Tissue Culture"


Dr. William J. Schwartz
University of Massachusetts Medical School
Worcester, MA
"Microgravity and the Biology of Neural Stem Cells"

Dr. Arthur J. Sytkowski
Beth Israel Deasoness Medical Center
Boston, MA
"Growth Factor Receptor Function and Cell Differentiation in a Low-
Shear Environment"


Dr. W. William Wilson
Mississippi State University
Mississippi State, MS
"High Throughput Screening of Protein-Protein Interactions by 
Microchip SPACE"


Dr. Graca Almeida-Porada
University of Nevada School of Medicine
Reno, NV
"Stem Cell Plasticity Under Simulated Microgravity"

*****New York

Professor George T. DeTitta
Hauptman-Woodward Medical Research Institute
Buffalo, NY
"High Throughput Methods for Rational Prediction of Macromolecular 
Crystallization Conditions"

Professor Robert E. Thorne
Cornell University
Ithaca, NY
"Macromolecular Crystal Growth: Techniques Development, Fundamental 
Studies, and Applications to Complexes Affecting Cell Growth and 

Dr. J.H. David Wu
University of Rochester
Rochester, NY
"Circadian Rhythms and Control of Hematopoiesis"


Dr. Gloria E. Borgstahl
University of Toledo
Toledo, OH
"Searching for the Best Protein Crystals: Integration of 
Synchrotron-Based Crystal Quality Measurements and Structure 

Dr. Constance A. Schall
University of Toledo
Toledo, OH
"Optimization of Cryogenic Cooling of Protein Crystals"


Dr. Andrzej Fertala
Thomas Jefferson University
Philadelphia, PA
"Genetically Engineered Collagen II for Smart Biomaterials"

Professor Patrick J. Loll
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA
"Detergent Interactions Affecting Membrane Protein Crystallization:  
Analysis and Use in Screen Design"

Professor Irving M. Shapiro
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA
"Impact of Microgravity on Human Osteoblast Life History:  
Experimental Investigation and Numerical Study"

Professor Robert D. Tilton
Carnegie Mellon University
Pittsburgh, PA
"Electroosmotic and Electrophoretic Self-Assembly Techniques to 
Promote Mass Transfer in Biosensors"


Dr. Gerard J. Bunick
University of Tennessee
Knoxville, TN
"Structural Studies of Nucleosomes and Chromatin"

Dr. John Michael Ramsey
Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Oak Ridge, TN
"Automated Microfluidic Devices for Monitoring Biological Systems 
in Space"


Dr. John M. Jessup
University of Texas Health Science Center
San Antonio, TX
"Gene Expression of Human Colorectal Carcinoma in Microgravity"

Dr. Lynne P. Rutzky
University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston
Houston, TX
"Effect of Microgravity on Pancreatic Islet Xenotransplantation, 
Vascularization, and Stem Cell Growth"

Dr. Boris Yoffe
Baylor College of Medicine
Houston, TX
"Liver Tissue Engineering in Microgravity Environment"


Professor Michael C. Wiener
University of Virginia
Charlottesville, VA
"A Directed Approach to Membrane Protein Crystallography"


Dr. Albert Folch
University of Washington
Seattle, WA
"Microarrays of Cellular Membrane Patches for In-flight Studies of 
Ion Channel Function"