News/Events

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...

ASU postdoc awarded Alfred P. Sloan Foundation - NASA joint fellowship to study International Space Station microbes

May 16, 2017

Arizona State University has received new support from the prestigious Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and NASA for its rising research stars to study the microbiome of the built environment on board the International Space Station (ISS).  ASU Biodesign Institute postdoctoral researcher Jiseon Yang was just one of five scientists chosen from across the country for a fellowship award from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation under a joint call with NASA – “Microbes of the Built Environment...

NASA, ASU collaboration develops new 3-D tissue culture models with immune cells to better mimic human gut infections

March 10, 2017

Vaccines and antimicrobials have done more to transform medicine and extend the average human lifespan than any other scientific breakthrough. Yet infectious diseases remain the world’s no. 1 leading cause of death of children and young adults.  Now, with emerging epidemic threats like Zika, Ebola, SARS, TB and others, massive increases in antimicrobial resistance, and the time and cost for developing new antimicrobial drugs and therapeutics, scientists are worried about finding ever...

Effects of spaceflight detected in blood

January 25, 2017

As researchers have long known, the punishing conditions associated with human spaceflight present profound challenges for the mental and physical health of astronauts. Acceleration during launch, (which must rapidly propel the craft to some 18,000 mph), acute confinement, hazardous levels of radiation, sleep deprivation, and reduced gravity (or microgravity) can produce a range of physiological effects, from suppressed immune function, bone and muscle loss, eyesight problems, and viral...

Bacteria get dangerously weird in space

October 25, 2016

In 2006, Cheryl Nickerson sent a culture of salmonella bacteria for a ride on the space shuttle Atlantis. Eleven days later, she watched anxiously from the Kennedy Space Center in the dead of night as her bacteria returned safely. Nickerson, a microbiologist at Arizona State University, and her team then infected hundreds of mice with the salmonella grown in space. At the same time, they infected hundreds of other mice with salmonella simultaneously grown on the ground. They had to work...

Switched-on Salmonella: fluid forces guide disease traits of multidrug resistant bacteria

June 8, 2016

Once inside the human body, infectious microbes like Salmonella face a fluid situation. They live in a watery world, surrounded by liquid continually flowing over and abrading their cell surfaces—a property known as fluid shear. In new research appearing in the Nature Publishing Group journal npj Microgravity, Cheryl Nickerson, Ph.D.,  and her colleagues explore the effects of physiological fluid shear on ST313—a particularly dangerous type of Salmonella, which is resistant to...

Student Spotlight: Breanne McCarthy

May 13, 2016

Breanne McCarthy’s undergraduate experience was out of this world - literally.  During her first year at ASU, McCarthy found an opportunity to work in astrobiology in Cheryl Nickerson’s lab at the Biodesign Institute.  “My first study with Dr. Nickerson’s lab was really cool because we were studying...how the spaceflight environment will change bacterial resistance or susceptibility to antibiotics,” said McCarthy, “I actually got to lead a teleconference with our...

3-D tissue model of placenta as a predictive platform to study microbial infections during pregnancy

March 24, 2016

During pregnancy, the rapidly developing fetus is enshrouded by a remarkable structure: the placenta. Researchers hope to better understand many peculiarities of placental development, including maternal and fetal pathologies associated with microbial infections during pregnancy. Studying the various cell types making up this unique structure, however,  is challenging. In a new study, Cheryl Nickerson, a researcher at Arizona State University’s Biodesign Institute, along with...

Prominent scientists named to lead ASU Biodesign Institute Center for Infectious Diseases and Vaccinology

January 22, 2016

Charles Arntzen, a researcher who discovered a method for producing an Ebola treatment in a tobacco plant, and Cheryl Nickerson, a microbiologist who discovered that mechanical cues can globally reprogram how pathogens cause disease, have been named to lead the Biodesign Institute’s Center for Infectious Diseases and Vaccinology as interim co-directors. The Center for Infectious Diseases and Vaccinology, one of 15 research centers at the growing Biodesign Institute at Arizona State...