earth from space

From microscope to telescope and beyond – exploring with NASA's CASIS

Space exploration requires adventurous astronauts to suit up and ride a rocket into the vast expanse we can only imagine through a telescope. Medical research relies on curious scientists to peer into cells through microscopes and to think on a molecular, rather than cosmic, scale.

What do the two have in common? Can they help each other?

That’s what GSK and NASA’s CASIS, the Center for Advancement of Science in Space, are exploring. CASIS runs the International Space Station US National Laboratory, which essentially is a science laboratory 220 miles above the earth.

Crossing scientific frontiers: How do you explore the unknown?

Dr Moncef Slaoui, GSK’s chairman of global vaccines and former astronaut Gregory H Johnson discuss exploring space to find potential new medicines.


Both of us are exploring the frontiers of science, something that requires lifelong dedication and perseverance. Both of us are pursuing the best science where ever it can be found. Both of us believe that together as partners we can accelerate discoveries to improve human health on earth.

For our R&D scientists, space research offers unique conditions, like a microgravity environment, that could accelerate medical discoveries. For example, we know that the body ages more quickly in space due to the gravity change: muscles diminish in strength, the immune system weakens and the heart experiences additional stress.

Nasa, astronaut working in space shuttle
Image credit: NASA

Microgravity can also affect properties of potential medicines in ways that make them easier to produce or easier to study. This is intriguing, especially in terms of clinical development of new medicines which is challenging and costly. Imagine if we could streamline that process by studying it in space!

Exploring the potential of research in space is just one more way we are going beyond boundaries to find better ways to bring medicines and products to the people who need them.