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Genomics and Cell Biology: September 2011


The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has released NASA Research Announcement (NRA) NNH11ZTT002N, entitled "Research Opportunities in Space Biology." This NASA Research Announcement (NRA) solicits hypothesis-driven research proposals for both ground-based experiments and flight experiments in Space Biology (SB). All proposals must describe hypothesis-driven experiments that will answer basic questions about how cells, plants and animals respond to changes in gravity. Proposals for ground-based experiments must demonstrate and describe a clear path to hypothesis testing in space flight experiments on the ISS or other appropriate space flight platforms. This NRA also requests proposals for rapid turn-around flight research using plants or Petri dish-based biological systems that will utilize either the Advanced Biological Research System (ABRS) hardware residing on the International Space Station (ISS) or the Biological Research in Canisters - Petri Dish Fixation Unit (BRIC-PDFU) hardware on any of several potential flight platforms (based on science requirements and availability).

Description: This NASA Research Announcement (NRA) solicits hypothesis-driven research proposals for both ground-based experiments and flight experiments in Space Biology (SB). This solicitation (NRA NNH11ZTT002N), entitled, "Research Opportunities in Space Biology," will be available on or about September 30, 2011. This solicitation will be found by opening the NASA Research Opportunities homepage at http://nspires.nasaprs.com/ and then linking through the menu listings "Solicitations" to "Open Solicitations."

Utilizing 21st century biological tools (e.g., genetic, proteomic, metabolomic), SB scientists will examine and discover underlying mechanisms of adaptation to changes resulting from the space flight environment (e.g., altered gravity, stress, radiation), and will determine cellular and organismal mechanisms that regulate and sustain growth, metabolism, reproduction and development. NASA intends to sponsor studies that will result in new basic knowledge that will provide a foundation on which other NASA researchers and engineers can build approaches and countermeasures to the problems confronting human exploration of space, or that translate into new biological tools or applications on Earth.

All proposals must describe hypothesis-driven experiments that will answer basic questions about how cells, plants and animals respond to changes in gravity. This NRA will solicit proposals for ground-based SB research using cells, tissues, or whole animals that will enhance our understanding of the effects of gravity on the mammalian musculoskeletal system. Proposals for these ground-based experiments must demonstrate and describe a clear path to hypothesis-testing in space flight experiments on the ISS or other appropriate space flight platforms. This NRA also requests proposals for rapid turn-around flight research using plants or Petri dish-based biological systems that will utilize either the Advanced Biological Research System (ABRS) hardware residing on the International Space Station (ISS) or the Biological Research in Canisters - Petri Dish Fixation Unit (BRIC-PDFU) hardware on any of several potential flight platforms (based on science requirements and availability). Applications for flight experiments must demonstrate, using ground-based and/or previous flight research results, that there is a high likelihood of successful completion of any proposed flight experiment.

A case study of last year's Workshop without Walls on "Molecular Paleontology and Resurrection: Rewinding the Tape of Life." appears in the July 2011 issue of PLoS Biology. Authors include Betuel Arslan of the Georgia Tech team, Eric Boyd of the Montana State University team, and members of NAI Central.

Abstract:

The NASA Astrobiology Institute conducted two "Workshops Without Walls" during 2010 that enabled global scientific exchange--with no travel required. The second of these was on the topic "Molecular Paleontology and Resurrection: Rewinding the Tape of Life." Scientists from diverse disciplines and locations around the world were joined through an integrated suite of collaborative technologies to exchange information on the latest developments in this area of origin of life research. Through social media outlets and popular science blogs, participation in the workshop was broadened to include educators, science writers, and members of the general public. In total, over 560 people from 31 US states and 30 other nations were registered. Among the scientific disciplines represented were geochemistry, biochemistry, molecular biology and evolution, and microbial ecology. We present this workshop as a case study in how interdisciplinary collaborative research may be fostered, with substantial public engagement, without sustaining the deleterious environmental and economic impacts of travel.

For more information: http://www.plosbiology.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pbio.1001118