Thomas J. Goodwin, PhDHomepage of Thomas J. Goodwin, PhD

Dr. Thomas J. Goodwin is best known for his work in physiology and bioengineering research, particularly three-dimensional tissues for the study of human physiology and tumour biology, 3-D models as microbial hosts for infectious disease, and research into the effects of ultra-low frequency electromagnetic fields on human tissues.

Dr. Goodwin has been granted 20 U.S. patents, with several disclosures pending, has published more than 45 peer-reviewed scientific papers and is the recipient of more than 55 NASA Scientific and Technical awards. He is based at NASA's Johnson Space Center (JSC) in Houston, Texas.

Current positions

Project Manager and Scientist – Non-Exercise Physiological Countermeasures – NASA JSC

Manager – Disease Modeling and Tissue Analogues Laboratory – NASA JSC

Adjunct Scientist – Southwest National Primate Research Center (SNPRC) – San Antonio TX

Adjunct Assistant Professor – University of Texas, Department of Surgery, Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery, School of Medicine – Galveston TX

Current research projects

Bone replacement and repair; viral infectious disease modeling

Specialty areas

Three-dimensional cell physiology, infectious disease models and ultra-low frequency electromagnetic fields

Contact Information

Human Health and Countermeasures Division
Non-Exercise Physiological Countermeasures Project
Mail Code SK/3
2101 NASA Road One
Houston TX 77058

Career Biography

I first arrived at NASA in 1987 as an independent contractor from Krug Life Sciences, brought into the Biotechnology Facility at the Johnson Space Center (JSC) to develop the biologic techniques for the cell culturing system known as the Rotating Wall Vessel (RWV). The RWV, which later also came to be known as the NASA Bioreactor, was initially designed as a method for keeping cells and tissues alive in space, especially during the rigors of launch and reentry. While working with the system, Project Manager Andy Anderson gave me special permission to go beyond protocol to conceive of methodologies to employ its unique capabilities on the ground. Those efforts led to the breakthrough experiment that recapitulated high-fidelity, three-dimensional colon cancer polyps, the first three-dimensional tissues grown on the ground in the NASA Bioreactor. In 1993, I became a NASA civil servant.

For 12 years, I served as Manager of Biotechnology Flight definition and later was selected by NASA to become chief scientist for the Biotechnology Facility. During these years, I developed advanced experimental techniques for the NASA Bioreactor and as co-investigator or project scientist designed and/or assisted in the development of more than 16 spaceflight experiments.

My most recent flight research was performed onboard the STS-107 Columbia mission that was tragically lost on its return from space. Lelund W.K. Chung, PhD, of Emory University, and I designed the prostate carcinoma experiment that resulted in the largest tumor tissue yet grown in microgravity.


Video of the Prostate Carcinoma & Bone Stromal Cells Experiment on STS-107
SpaceHab mission for Human Health.
Credit: NASA


While the experiment was lost with the Columbia, the videotape transmitted by Payload Commander Michael Anderson the night before proved it was a significant milestone in 3-D biology, as reported in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.]

When the Biotechnology Facility was retired in 2005 because of budget redirection, I was reassigned to the Non-Exercise Physiological Countermeasures Project in the Human Health and Countermeasures Division of NASA’s Human Research Program. I currently serve as project manager and scientist for this effort, and manage the Disease Modeling and Tissue Analogues Laboratory at JSC.

As part of my current responsibilities, I am the chief scientist for the Minus Eighty Laboratory Freezer (MELFI) for the International Space Station (ISS), which was deployed by Discovery STS-121 to the station to be used as the -80 degree Centigrade cold repository for biologic and medical samples. I also serve as the chief scientist for the GLACIER cryogenic freezer facility for the ISS and Space Shuttle. These systems are much-needed facilities to perpetuate experiments with greater requirements for cold storage.

Professional Affiliations

American Association for the Advancement of Science
American Physiological Society
American Society for Cell Biology
International Federation for the Advancement of Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology
Sigma XI The Scientific Research
Society for In Vitro Biology

Last updated: July 2013