First round of UF Space Mission Institute funding awarded to UF College of Pharmacy researchers

University of Florida College of Pharmacy researchers Maddalena Parafati, Ph.D., a research assistant professor of pharmacodynamics, and Siobhan Malany, Ph.D., an associate professor of pharmacodynamics, are among the first scientists awarded grant funding from the newly formed UF Space Mission Institute.

An $80,000 award will support a study examining how space travel affects liver organoids generated from blood samples taken from an astronaut before and after a mission and converting the blood stem cells into hepatocytes. The researchers will look at changes in omics profiles during space flight.

“This study will pave the way to fly the pre-astronaut cells to space and compare the flown cells with post-flight samples from the same astronaut to develop an astronaut avatar,” Malany said. “The blood samples can eventually be differentiated into any cell type and provide a platform to explore longitudinal spaceflight data.”

The study will be conducted in collaboration with researchers at Weill Cornell Medicine, who collected the blood samples from astronauts. The UF Space Mission Institute was established in January to unite space-related researchers across the university. It was funded with $2.5 million in support from UF President Benn Sasse’s strategic funding initiative.