Massachusetts Life Sciences – Out of this World!

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(Caption: Expedition 41 Flight Engineer Reid Wiseman of NASA

Life science companies based in Massachusetts have a unique opportunity to send their research to outer space, thanks to the new Galactic Grant Competition announced this month at Boston’s Museum of Science.

The first-in-the-nation competition is funded by the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center (MLSC), the state’s investment agency that supports life sciences innovation, research, development, and commercialization. MLSC is partnering with the Center for Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), the agency charged with maximizing innovation and discovery aboard the International Space Station.

Up to $500,000 is being awarded to the winning companies, who will get to participate in life science experiments take place on board the International Space Station. Applicants may apply between December 1, 2014 and April 3, 2015. A series of information sessions, to take place between December and February, will be announced at the end of November.

“Massachusetts is the global leader in life sciences, so it is only fitting that we are the first state to promote life sciences experiments on the International Space Station,” said Governor Deval Patrick. “We are taking our spirit of collaboration to space in order to advance science, technology, education and economic development for Massachusetts and its residents.”

In addition to the $500,000 research prize(s), $50,000 is being set aside for STEM educational initiatives that connect Massachusetts students to the ISS with unique content and student research opportunities.

The International Space Station is an ideal research platform for life sciences initiatives, according to officials. The microgravity environment on the station has profound and unique effects on biological phenomena and can enable discoveries with terrestrial applications, including drug discovery, development, delivery, and diagnostics.

Susan Windham-Bannister, Ph.D., President &CEO of MLSC, said “Massachusetts is the first state that CASIS has approached about a collaboration….on the International Space Station – a one-of-a-kind platform for applied research projects that will help bring new therapies and cures to market.”

Earlier this month, CASIS & Boeing awarded $200,000 each to three startups that participated in the MassChallenge competition, to test their medical technologies aboard the International Space Station.

Find out more information about the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center.