Kathleen (Kate) Rubins was selected as an astronaut by NASA in 2009. Dr. Rubins completed her first spaceflight on Expedition 48/49, where she became the first person to sequence DNA in space. She holds a bachelor’s degree in molecular biology from the University of California and a doctorate in Cancer biology from Stanford University Medical School’s biochemistry department and microbiology and immunology department. Dr. Rubins conducted her undergraduate research on HIV-1 integration in the Infectious Diseases Laboratory at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies. She worked as a fellow/principal investigator at the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research and headed 14 researchers studying viral diseases that primarily affect Central and West Africa. Rubins most recently served aboard the International Space Station (ISS) National Laboratory as flight engineer for Expedition 63/64.
Across Dr. Rubins’ two flights, she has spent a total of 300 days in space, the fourth most days in space by a U.S. female astronaut. She worked hundreds of hours on new space station experiments, building on investigations she conducted during her first mission, including cardiovascular research and multiple microbiology studies. She also advanced her work in DNA sequencing, which could allow astronauts to diagnose an illness in space or identify microbes growing at the space station. During her most recent spaceflight, Dr. Rubins worked on three different Tissue Chips in Space projects, co-sponsored by ISS National Lab and and the National Institutes of Health. Because human cells and tissues respond to microgravity in ways that sometimes mimic the onset and progression of human disease, studying tissue chips in space may accelerate pathways for understanding disease and developing new treatments for use on Earth and beyond.