Join Our TRISH-Funded Researchers!

X Class Solar Flare Sends ‘Shockwaves’ on The Sun
credit: NASA/SDO/AIAX Class Solar Flare Sends ‘Shockwaves’ on The Sun

The Translational Research Institute for Space Health (TRISH) has a single over-arching mission: Lead a national effort in translating cutting-edge, emerging, terrestrial research into applied space flight human risk mitigation strategies for exploration missions. Simply put, we seek and fund emerging scientific and biomedical advances, radically disruptive technologies, and new engineering capabilities and facilities that bridge earth and space health. We have a robust portfolio of funding mechanisms.

Join our growing list of TRISH-funded researchers and learn more about funding opportunities by checking out our Programs page!

Focused Investigation Project (FIP) Awards

FIP grants are unsolicited proposals that may be submitted at any time. This funding vehicle is best suited for pilot or proof-of-principle projects with a small amount of funding and a short duration. Learn more about FIP grants.

Principal Investigator: Bob Main, CEO

Research: Development of a self-imaging, wide-angle, high-resolution retinal imaging system for human spaceflight applications

Institution: Web Vision Technologies, ABOM
Start Date:
Sept. 1, 2017
End Date: Aug. 31, 2018 
Study Type: Ground study
NASA Risk Addressed: Spaceflight Associated Neuro-Ocular Syndrome (SANS) 

Principal Investigator: Eva Sevick-Muraca, Ph.D. 

Research: Quantification of the lymphatic pump strength and assessment of CSF drainage into the lymphatics during HDT

Institution: The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, Houston, Texas
Start Date: May 01, 2017 
End Date: July 31, 2018
Study Type: Ground study

NASA Risk Addressed: Spaceflight Associated Neuro-Ocular Syndrome (SANS) 

2017 Translational Research Institute Research Topics Awards

The Translational Research Institute for Space Health issued a web release on Sept. 20, 2017 announcing the grant awards for 10 trailblazing research projects in the areas of omics, lymphatic flow, radiation damage resistance, minimally-invasive surgical capabilities, and the effects of the microbiome on health during long-duration spaceflight. The solicitation and FAQs were posted early March 2017 with proposals being due in mid May 2017. View the topics and proposal instructions for the Translational Research Institute Research Announcement NNJ16ZSA001N-TRIIN.

Principal Investigator: Charles Chiu, M.D., Ph.D.

Research: In-flight metagenomic monitoring of infections and associated host responses in astronauts

Institution: University of California, San Francisco, Calif.
Start date: Oct. 1, 2017
End date: Sept. 30, 2022
Grant Mechanism: Program grant
Study type: Flight study

NASA Risk Addressed: Risk of Adverse Health Effects Due to Host-Microorganism Interactions

Problem Addressed: Astronauts will be susceptible to infections during long-duration spaceflight due to alterations in their immune systems as well as changes to the microbes in the space environment. This project builds a capability to track and identify the infectious agents in real time so that appropriate clinical treatments can be applied.

Major Aim of Project: To develop and implement routine onboard tools for monitoring astronaut health (infectious disease diagnosis by metagenomics and gene expression) and microbial tracking during spaceflight.

View status.

Principal Investigator: Lawrence David, Ph.D.

Research: Personalizing prebiotic therapies for astronauts' gut microbiota

Institution: Duke University, N.C.
Start date: Oct. 1, 2017
End date: Sept. 30, 2019
Grant Mechanism: Single PI Grant
Study type: Ground study

NASA Risk Addressed: Risk of Performance Decrement and Crew Illness due to an Inadequate Food System

Problem Addressed: Deep space missions will not be able to carry large amounts of payload (including food). Dietary carbohydrates nourish human gut bacterial communities (microbiota) that resist pathogens, regulate gastrointestinal physiology, and train the immune system. This project enables the reduction of food mass and improves astronauts gut’s microbiota.

Major Aim of Project: To develop a platform for individualizing prebiotic treatments that could be used to enhance gut bacterial metabolism in astronauts. Customizing prebiotic treatments would also minimize the amount of unused dietary carbohydrates ingested by astronauts, reducing spaceflight payloads.

View status.

Principal Investigator: Donald Fox, Ph.D.

Research: Mining biology's extremes for new space radiation resistance strategies

Institution: Duke University, N.C.
Start date: Oct. 1, 2017
End date: Sept. 30, 2020
Grant Mechanism: Single PI grant
Study type: Ground study

NASA Risk Addressed: Risk of Acute (In-flight) and Late Central Nervous System Effects from Radiation Exposure, Risk of Cardiovascular Disease and Other Degenerative Tissue Effects From Radiation Exposure and Secondary Spaceflight Stressors

Problem Addressed: Astronauts exposure to radiation during deep space missions is one of the main concerns. Different medical conditions derived from this exposure may arise. This project enables the identification of space radiation tolerant genes that could be used to enhance human safety during deep space exploration missions.

Major Aim of Project: This project aims to use powerful genetic screening in Drosophila (fruit flies) and follow-up work in mice, to identify unique genes and gene expression that enhance space radiation tolerance in vivo. These genes will be initially identified in Tardigrades (water bears).

View status.

Principal Investigator: Dawn Kernagis, Ph.D.

Research: Cervical lymphatic function quantification and associated molecular changes in response to simulated microgravity

Institution: Institute for Human and Machine Cognition, Pensacola, Fla.
Start date: Oct. 1, 2017
End date: Sept. 30, 2019
Grant Mechanism: Single PI grants
Study type: Ground study

NASA Risk Addressed: Risk of Spaceflight Associated Neuro-ocular Syndrome (SANS)

Problem Addressed: Astronauts exposed to long-duration microgravity develop varying degrees of visual changes and signs of elevated intracranial pressure (ICP) although ICP measurements are normal. These visual changes are thought to potentially be associated with lymphatic flow alterations. This project will provide new information and tools to characterize the effect of microgravity on deep cervical lymphatic function and its relationship to SANS.

Major Aim of Project: To refine existing lymphatic imaging technology while addressing the hypothesis that simulated microgravity in humans impairs lymphatic transit speed in the head/neck lymphatics. Visual analysis and machine learning algorithms will be applied to develop a software program that automatically quantifies lymphatic function in conjunction with the measuring device.

View status.

Principal Investigator: Robert Langer, Sc.D.

Research: Gastrointestinal devices for long-term in situ delivery of therapeutic microbes

Institution: Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Maine
Start date: Nov. 1, 2017
End date: Oct. 31, 2019
Grant Mechanism: Single PI grant
Study type: Ground study

NASA Risk Addressed: Risk of Performance Decrement and Crew Illness due to an Inadequate Food System

Problem Addressed: Astronauts during spaceflight are generally not optimally nourished. Dietary intake tailored to the astronauts’ needs might be beneficial for their immune system function. This project builds upon previous findings from a Charles Stark Draper Prize recipient (Dr. Langer) that could be used to enhance immune and GI function.

Major Aim of Project: To develop a polymeric (plastic) device that is retained in the GI tract for an extended time interval (1+ years) to host, protect and administer genetically modified therapeutic microbes. It minimizes personnel, equipment and space requirements during spaceflight since it can be administered and quality checked during a pre-flight period.

View status.

Principal Investigator: George Pantalos, Ph.D.

Research: Creating surgical capabilities for exploration space flight

Institution: University of Louisville, Louisville, Ky.
Start date: Oct. 1, 2017
End date: Sept. 30, 2019
Grant Mechanism: Single PI grant
Study type: Ground study

NASA Risk Addressed: Risk of Adverse Health Effects Due to Host-Microorganism Interactions

Problem Addressed: Due to the difficulty of resupply from Earth and the long communication delay during deep space missions, astronaut medical and surgical care will likely need to be autonomous. It is possible, that surgical procedures may be required to treat trauma or disease. This project enables the surgical capability to address such medical scenarios.

Major Aim of Project: To develop just-in-time surgical training, optimize the supply logistics of manifested versus 3D printed surgical instruments, and modify the NASA Robonaut 2 to add responsive movements for assistance during surgery. This project focuses on an example surgical procedure (appendicitis). Training material utilizing virtual or augmented reality will be developed and evaluated for effectiveness.

View status.

Principal Investigator: Christopher Porada, Ph.D.

Research: Novel microfluidic biomarker detection platforms to monitor in vivo effects of solar particle events and galactic cosmic rays radiation, using mice with human hematopoietic systems

Institution: Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine, Winston-Salem, N.C.
Start date: Nov. 1, 2017
End date: Oct. 31, 2021
Grant Mechanism: Program grant
Study type: Ground study

NASA Risk Addressed: Risk of Acute (In-flight) and Late Central Nervous System Effects from Radiation Exposure, Risk of Cardiovascular Disease and Other Degenerative Tissue Effects From Radiation Exposure and Secondary Spaceflight Stressors

Problem Addressed: Space radiation is the number one challenge for deep space exploration – its unique composition generates deleterious effects mainly in the central nervous and cardiovascular systems. This project tries to develop countermeasures against these effects.

Major Aim of Project: To develop nanoparticles loaded with curcumin (an antioxidant) as effective countermeasures for space radiation. A mice model with “humanized” hematopoietic system and a “gut-on-a-chip” will be used to define changes in human and mouse radiation/stress blood biomarkers in response to mission-relevant doses of simulated space radiation.

View status.

Principal Investigator: Susan Rosenberg, Ph.D.

Research: Discovery of human radiation-protection genes and pathways

Institution: Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas
Start date: Oct. 1, 2017
End date: Sept. 30, 2020
Grant Mechanism: Single PI grant
Study type: Ground study

NASA Risk Addressed: Risk of Acute (In-flight) and Late Central Nervous System Effects from Radiation Exposure, Risk of Cardiovascular Disease and Other Degenerative Tissue Effects From Radiation Exposure and Secondary Spaceflight Stressors

Problem Addressed: Astronauts during deep space missions will be exposed to radiation and their cells will suffer DNA damage, which increases their susceptibility to cancer among other diseases. This project determines human proteins and pathways of radiation resistance, which can be considered as potential targets for, or models for design of, drugs for protection from radiation.

Major Aim of Project: To explore 23 E. coli (bacteria) DNA “damage-down” DNA “damage-control” genes and their human homologs and analogs for their ability, when overexpressed, to protect cells from exogenously applied proton radiation-induced DNA damage.

View status.

Principal Investigator: Kasthuri Venkateswaran, Ph.D.

Research: Omics in space: Technology development for omics instrumentations and biomolecule measurements

Institution: Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
Start date: Oct. 1, 2017
End date: Sept. 30, 2022
Grant Mechanism: Single PI grant
Study type: Flight study

NASA Risk Addressed: Risk of Adverse Health Effects Due to Host-Microorganism Interactions, Risk of Adverse Health Event Due to Altered Immune Response

Problem Addressed: Processing of biological samples (e.g. saliva, blood, etc.) during spaceflight is time consuming. Additionally, microbial population dynamics can be altered when analyses are not carried out immediately. This project enables faster and real-time processing of these samples in order to identify potentially harmful microorganisms and other conditions.

Major Aim of Project: To develop an automated Sample Processing Instrumentation (SPI) for nucleic acid extraction (DNA, RNA, miRNA) that requires minimal crew time, reducing the amount of contamination between samples, and producing consistent results. This SPI will enable real-time screening and identification of microorganisms (e.g., dominating viral and microbial pathogens, as well as those that bear resistance traits relevant to antibiotics) during spaceflight.

View status.

Principal Investigator: Lihong Wang, Ph.D.

Research: Label-free photoacoustic lymphatic flowgraphy in simulated microgravity

Institution: California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, Calif.
Start date: Oct. 1, 2017
End date: Sept. 30, 2019
Grant Mechanism: Single PI grant
Study type: Ground study

NASA Risk Addressed: Risk of Spaceflight Associated Neuro-ocular Syndrome (SANS)

Problem Addressed: Astronauts exposed to long-duration missions experience fluid shifting from the legs to the head due to microgravity. Some develop SANS which causes hyperopic refractive error shifts (farsightedness). This project investigates the contribution of microgravity-induced lymphatic flow alterations to SANS.

Major Aim of Project: To develop a spaceship compatible label-free PALF system to measure multiple key parameters of the lymphatic flows, including the lymphatic vessel diameter, flow direction, flow velocity, and volumetric flow rate.

View status.

Industry Awards

Industry grants offer non-dilutive funding to U.S.-based companies to develop space-compatible health solutions from their already existing technologies. 100% of matching funds is required to maximize the institute’s federal dollars.

TRISH posted a web release on July 16, 2018 announcing three awards in the areas of Point-of-care Diagnostics for Long-duration Space Flights and Deep Artificial Intelligence Medical Support. The institute partnered with the Consortia for Improving Medicine with Innovation and Technology (CIMIT) to release the funding opportunity in March 2018. View the topics for the solicitation here.

Principal Investigator: Luc Gervais, Ph.D.

Research: Miniaturized Diagnostics Platform for Health Assessment in Deep Space

Company: 1Drop Diagnostics
Start date: Sept. 1, 2018
End date: Aug. 31, 2019
Study type: Ground study

Principal Investigator: Jayant Menon, M.D.

Research: Autonomous Medical Response Agent (AMRA)

Company: Nahlia
Start date: Sept. 1, 2018
End date: Aug. 31, 2019
Study type: Ground study

Principal Investigator: Arthur Papier, M.D.

Research: VisualDx Augmented Intelligence Project

Company: Logical Images, Inc.
Start date: Sept. 1, 2018
End date: Aug. 31, 2019
Study type: Ground study

Postdoctoral Fellowship Awards 

Postdoctoral fellowship program grants enable early career scientists to design, develop and conduct their own space-related research projects under the guidance of experienced faculty mentors. These two-year fellowships provide a stipend based on NIH guidelines and allowance for healthcare and travel. Learn more about TRISH postdoctoral fellowships.

Principal Investigator: Heather Allaway, Ph.D.

 Research: Will use of long-acting, reversible contraceptives mitigate bone loss in female rats during simulated exploration class missions?

Mentor: Susan Bloomfield, Ph.D.
Institution:  Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas
Start Date: Jan. 1, 2018             
End Date: Dec. 31, 2019
Study Type: Ground study

NASA Risk Addressed: Risk Of Early Onset Osteoporosis Due To Spaceflight (Osteo) 

Principal Investigator: Micaela Cunha, Ph.D.

Research: A mechanistic framework to assess the efficacy of aspirin and other radioprotectors to reduce carcinogenesis by space radiations.

Mentor: David Brenner, Ph.D.  
Institution: Columbia University, New York, N.Y.
Start Date: Jan. 1, 2018             
End Date: Dec. 31, 2019
Study Type: Ground study

NASA Risk Addressed: Space Radiation Exposure (Cancer) 

Principal Investigator: Karina Marshall-Bowman, Ph.D.

Research: Assessment of artificial gravity as a countermeasure to cephalad fluid shifting

Mentor: Quan Zhang, Ph.D. 
Institution: Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, Mass.
Start Date: March 1, 2018
End Date: Feb. 28, 2020
Study Type: Ground study

NASA Risk Addressed: Spaceflight Associated Neuro-Ocular Syndrome (SANS)

Principal Investigator: Vivekanand Vimal, Ph.D.

Research: Predicting individual differences in learning to manually stabilize attitude in a space flight analog environment.

Mentor: Paul DiZio, Ph.D. 
Institution: Brandeis University, Waltham, Mass.
Start Date: Jan. 1, 2018
End Date: Dec. 31, 2019
Study Type: Ground study

NASA Risk Addressed: Sensorimotor Alterations (SM)  

Synergy Awards

Synergy grants are small, short duration grants designed to enable collaboration with a TRISH-funded project. These studies are intended to permit sharing of resources and personnel across funded projects and allow investigators to get the most value from each project. Learn more about TRISH synergy grants.

Principal Investigator: Huichen Wang, Ph.D.

Research: Synergistic study of radioprotection mechanisms between flies and human hippocampal neurons

Institution: Prairie View A&M University, College Station, Texas
Start Date: 
March 1, 2018
End Date: Feb. 28, 2019
Grant Mechanism: Synergy grant
TRISH Synergy Project: Mining biology's extremes for new space radiation resistance strategies
Study Type: Ground Study

NASA Risk Addressed: Risk of Acute (In-flight) and Late Central Nervous System Effects from Radiation Exposure

Problem Addressed: Radiation exposure in deep space is one of the main threats to astronaut health. The key areas of concern include damage to the cardiovascular and central nervous system.  This project builds on another TRISH-funded project by Dr. Donald Fox which aims to identify radiation resistance genes in Tardigrades (water bears). These newly identified genes will be transferred to Drosophila (fruit flies) which will undergo radiation exposure to test the genes’ effectiveness as radio-protectants. This is a completely new approach and as such, potential toxicity and cognitive effects could occur in the new transgenic radio-resistant fruit flies as a result of the Tardigrade genes.

Major Aim of Project: In this project, Dr. Huichen Wang will add cultured human neurons (hippocampal cells) to the new transgenic radio-resistant fruit flies and test whether the Tardigrade radioprotectors affect the human neurons within the fruit flies. These new experiments will provide insight into the potential toxicity and cognitive effects of the newly discovered radio-protectant Tardigrade genes.

View status.