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A mice habitat system in Kibo received the 2019 ISS Research Award for Innovation in Biology and Medicine!

Last Updated: September 11, 2019

ISS Research Awards

"ISS Research Award" are granted for creative innovations and remarkable research results achieved on the International Space Station (ISS) and the presentation takes place at the ISS Research R&D Conference (an event to introduce various activities of ISS hosted by the ISS US National Lab, NASA, and the American Astronautical Society).

The ISS Research Awards has started since 2013. Japan's research and development has been awards in 2014, 2016, 2017, and 2018 in the past, making this the fourth year in a row to receive this award. In 2019, 11 researches were selected, one of which, JAXA's "Development of A Unique Rodent Research Capability Which Can Reveal Gravitational Effects To Mice With An On-Orbit Centrifuge" received the Innovation Award in Biology and Medicine. Regarding the research utilizing mice in Kibo, Professor Satoru Takahashi at University of Tsukuba received the Compelling Results in Biology and Medicine Award last year for the results derived from this system, marking this as the double awards on both research results and facility development.

For the Japanese research and development results to be granted the award among multiples of research and development related to the use of the ISS indicates how high the level of Japanese activities is that is related to the use of the ISS.

This innovation created from both science and engineering is expected to promote further use of the ISS.

Award Overview

Theme Development of A Unique Rodent Research Capability Which Can Reveal Gravitational Effects To Mice With An On-Orbit Centrifuge
Researchers Kibo Mouse Habitat Unit Mission Team, JAXA
Grounds for Awarding (JAXA's summary)
The team developed a unique rodent research capability which can reveal gravitational effects to mice with an on-orbit centrifuge for the first time on ISS. The developed Mouse Habitat Unit (MHU), or a Multiple Artificial-gravity Research System (MARS), leads the research in effects of partial gravity on mammals on the moon and Mars for future human exploration.

Award Granting Ceremony

On August 1, 2019 in Atlanta, USA
From the left: Dr. Kirt Costello (NASA), Dr. Masaki Shirakawa (JAXA),
Mr. Jim Way (AAS)

Award plaque

Award Winners' Comment

Dr. Masaki Shirakawa (JAXA)

NASA has been performing experiments using rodents (rats and mice) in space since 1980s, while JAXA's first launch was in 2016, which is more than 30 years later. Because of this, we have been conscious of "making comparison of two groups of gravitational conditions necessary to drug discovery research" and "acquiring basic data for future human missions" since its development phase. We wanted for it to have a unique feature that no other countries have equipped, and so we started developing a mice habitation system in an environment where gravity can be changed on orbit using Kibo's centrifuge. Although I'd have to say, since JAXA had never launched a mouse safe and sound or had an experience in a rearing system, let alone using artificial gravity, it was a very challenging goal. In fact, when we first started its development, NASA had told us that this would be difficult to realize and that we should reconsider, but that shed light on what we had to specifically tackle, so we're thankful for that. Since 2016, we have already carried out four missions, and all of them were successful. Now, American researchers are telling us that they would like to use our system.

We're very honored to have received this award and very grateful that our effort has been acknowledged. We would like to thank everyone in JAXA and outside JAXA that have helped us with this system's development and operation, researchers who have given advice and assessment, members of the Committee of Experimental Animal Research and Committee of Genetic Modification Experiments, and people of NASA, Italian, and Russian space agencies who shared with us what they have learned from their past missions. We wouldn't have been able to do this without all these people. Thank you again, and we will keep contributing to producing results from using Kibo and by utilizing the system to its full extent.

Academic theses related to the small animals breeding mission

Space Missions

Matsuda npj Microgravity. 2019 Jul 8;5(1):16.
Horie K Sci Rep. 2019 May 21;9(1):7654.
Tominari T Sci Rep. 2019 Apr 29;9(1):6614.
Mao XW Int J Mol Sci. 2018 Aug 28;19(9).
Shiba D Sci Rep. 2017 Sep 7;7(1):10837.

Related Topics

"2018 ISS Award for Compelling Results" granted for experiments in JEM "Kibo" at ISS R&D Conference(August 7, 2018)


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