Selected Publications

Scientific discoveries at the speed of news

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April 2018 –

NASA GeneLab Project: Bridging Space Radiation Omics with Ground Studies

Accurate assessment of risks of long-term space missions is critical for human space exploration. It is essential to have a detailed understanding of the biological effects on humans living and working in deep space. Ionizing radiation from galactic cosmic rays (GCR) is a major health risk factor for astronauts on extended missions outside the protective effects of the Earth's magnetic field. Currently, there are gaps in our knowledge of the health risks associated with chronic low-dose, low-dose-rate ionizing radiation, specifically ions associated with high (H) atomic number (Z) and energy (E). The NASA GeneLab project aims to provide a detailed library of omics datasets associated with biological samples exposed to HZE.

The GeneLab Data System (GLDS) includes datasets from both spaceflight and ground-based studies, a majority of which involve exposure to ionizing radiation. In addition to detailed information on radiation exposure for ground-based studies, GeneLab is adding detailed, curated dosimetry information for spaceflight experiments. GeneLab is the first comprehensive omics database for space-related research from which an investigator can generate hypotheses to direct future experiments, utilizing both ground and space biological radiation data. The GLDS is continually expanding as omics-related data are generated by the space life sciences community. Here we provide a brief summary of the space radiation-related data available at GeneLab.

View GeneLab omics datasets at:

Epub ahead of print: Radiat Res. 2018 Apr 13. doi: 10.1667/RR15062.1. –

artist rendering of cosmic rays
March 2018 –

First GeneLab-Generated Research Article Published in Scientific Reports

An original research article led by GeneLab scientists, titled “Global Transcriptomic Analysis Suggests Carbon Dioxide as an Environmental Stressor in Spaceflight: A Systems Biology GeneLab Case Study” was published in the March 2018 issue of Scientific Reports, part of the Nature publishing group. This landmark paper represents the first scientific publication wholly derived from publicly available GeneLab data, illustrating the process of generating new hypotheses and informing future experimental research by repurposing multiple space-flown datasets.

The research team, led by GeneLab scientists Afshin Beheshti, Egle Cekanaviciute, David J. Smith, and Sylvain V. Costes, examined how rodent cage architecture might influence atmospheric carbon dioxide levels, and consequently, physiological responses in spaceflight. The entire analysis was done using free and open GeneLab data from rodent research experiments previously flown on the Space Shuttle and International Space Station. Through a systems biology approach, the authors concluded that rodent cage types (producing carbon dioxide differences) could be influencing metabolism, immune response, and potentially the activation of cancer-related pathways. Research insights could shed light on experimental designs for rodent research and ultimately the biological risks for astronauts associated with long-term space missions.

Download the full article here:

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Animal Enclosure Module (AEM); Sample viviarium cage
July 2017 –

New Study Mines Data from GeneLab Resulting in
Validation of Methods

Chapes paper on journal cover

Antibodies are protein molecules in our bodies that help us resist infectious disease. The Chapes Lab at Kansas State University, in collaboration with the Pecaut Lab at Loma Linda University, are interested in the genes that are expressed and used during the assembly of antibody molecules, and the impact of spaceflight on that process.

Researchers at both labs have analyzed data from the GeneLab Data System, from mice liver tissue in two separate datasets (GLDS-47GLDS-48) that were generated from mice flown to and housed on the International Space Station. These data were used to help develop the methods – bioinformatic workflow – which were needed to process the data. The GeneLab data were used to validate the workflow and to make comparisons to sequencing data obtained at Kansas State University. The Chapes and Pecaut labs made preliminary comparisons between the immunoglobulin gene used in the spleen compared to the liver, because these data were publicly available in the GeneLab Data System.

The results of this study were published in July in the journal Gravitational and Space Research Vol 5, No 1 (2017); issue. This work was supported by NASA grants NNX13AN34G and NNX15AB45G.

By Stephen Chapes, Principal Investigator, Kansas State University, Chapes Lab