News/Events

Safeguarding clean water for spaceflight missions

September 7, 2021

By all appearances, the universe beyond Earth is a vast, lonely, and sterile space. Yet, wherever humans may travel, an abundance of microbial life will follow. In a first study of its kind, lead author Jiseon Yang at the Arizona State University Biodesign Institute, Center for Fundamental and Applied Microbiomics, and her colleagues characterized different bacterial populations isolated over time from potable (drinking) water from the International Space Station (ISS). While historical...

New study highlights first infection of human cells during spaceflight

March 9, 2021

Astronauts face many challenges to their health, due to the exceptional conditions of spaceflight. Among these are a variety of infectious microbes that can attack their suppressed immune systems. Now, in the first study of its kind, Cheryl Nickerson, lead author Jennifer Barrila and their colleagues describe the infection of human cells by the intestinal pathogen Salmonella Typhimurium during spaceflight. They show how the microgravity environment of spaceflight changes the molecular...

Meet the Promising New Researchers Making Waves on the Space Station

August 9, 2019

Each year, the president of the United States selects an elite group of scientists and engineers at the beginning of their independent research careers to receive the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers. This is the highest honor given by the U.S. government to outstanding science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) professionals at this point in their professions. This year’s selection of 314 scientists includes 18 NASA researchers. Although these...

Biodesign researcher honored by the White House with Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers

July 30, 2019

  Every year, the U.S. government identifies up-and-coming scientists from each state who are deserving of the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE). This is the nation’s highest honor bestowed by the U.S. government on outstanding scientists and engineers beginning their independent careers. This year, Jennifer Barrila, an assistant research professor in the Biodesign Center for Fundamental and Applied Microbiomics, received the PECASE award from...

PBS’ 'Catalyst' shines the spotlight on Biodesign researchers’ stories

March 18, 2019

Arizona State University researchers work all over the world, from Antarctica to Mexico, and Tucson to Pasadena. Now, a group of journalists and storytellers at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication is chronicling their research for a science documentary series for PBS. “Catalyst” returned to Arizona PBS Wednesday, Feb. 13 for a highly anticipated second season, featuring host Vanessa Ruiz, a Cronkite professor of practice and former...

Will Mars missions make humans sick? Here's what we know

December 4, 2018

While it's unclear if microbes are lurking on Mars, studies of earthly bacteria show that space can make some germs especially unpleasant. No one wants to risk a contagion in space. Returning home can be tricky, medical supplies are limited, crews cannot treat every complication that might arise, and a single infected astronaut could jeopardize an entire mission. That’s especially true for any future human missions to Mars, in which an astronaut with the sniffles would be at least...

Farewell flat biology – tackling infectious disease using 3-D tissue engineering

September 10, 2018

In a new invited review article, ASU Biodesign microbiologists and tissue engineers Cheryl Nickerson, Jennifer Barrila and colleagues discuss the development and application of three-dimensional (3-D) tissue culture models as they pertain to infectious disease. They describe these models as predictive pre-clinical platforms to study host-pathogen interactions, infectious disease mechanisms, and antimicrobial drug development.   The review, entitled “Modeling Host-Pathogen...

ASU a major presence at synthetic biology conference

June 4, 2018

Gathering highlights, discoveries, and tools at the leading edge of DNA editing Synthetic biology uses basic research about DNA and proteins to design and build “living nanotech” that controls cell behavior. The payoff, scientists hope, will be novel biomaterials for rebuilding damaged tissue, molecular and cellular therapies, and localized drug delivery systems for tough cancers. An annual synthetic biology conference is being held in Paradise Valley this week, with Arizona State...

Space business is big business

March 28, 2018

Once, space was a vast emptiness beyond earth, hostile and remote. Today, space is humming with satellites essential for global telecommunications and human occupied vehicles that provide an innovative platform for cutting edge scientific research that is benefiting life in space and on Earth. Indeed, many Earth-bound innovations have benefited from space research, from advanced solar cells to developments in parallel computing and major advances in human health. In a path-breaking new...

Discovery's Desert Home

September 18, 2017

  Editor's note: The following story was featured in the February 15 print edition of the journal Nature.  The Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University was designed to foster multidisciplinary collaboration and solve the world’s great challenges. The results speak for themselves. William Graves came to the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University (ASU) determined to change the world. The physicist had spent the past 13 years at the Massachusetts Institute of...