Foundation – Discovery Stage Research Projects

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The mission of California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) is to accelerate world class science to deliver transformative regenerative medicine treatments in an equitable manner to a diverse California and world. The objective of the Discovery Program is to support exploratory research leading to the discovery of novel stem cell technologies to improve patient care.

DISC 0: Foundation Awards

The Foundation Awards Program supports rigorous studies addressing critical basic knowledge gaps in the biology of stem cells and regenerative medicine approaches and to advance stem cell-based tools. Projects funded through the Foundation Awards should propose impactful or innovative research that culminates in a discovery or technology that would advance our understanding of the biology of stem or progenitor cells (collectively, “stem cells”) that is relevant to human biology and disease, or advance the application of genetic research that is relevant to human biology and disease and pertains to stem cells and regenerative medicine, or advance the development or use of human stem cells as tools for biomedical innovation, or lead to the greater applicability of regenerative medicine discoveries to communities representing the full spectrum of diversity. While CIRM intends to issue this Program Announcement for Foundation Awards to broadly re-initiate funding of basic stem cell science and genetic research, future DISC0 Program Announcements will be adjusted to align with collaborative infrastructure needs.

Please see the Funding Opportunities for Discovery Stage Research for the Program Announcement, application deadline and other details. 

To Submit an Application:

  1. Go to the Grants Management Portal ( and log in with your existing CIRM Username and Password. If you do not have a Username, Click on the “New User” link and follow the instructions to create a CIRM Username and password.
  2. After logging in, select the tab labeled “Open Programs”. Under the section labeled “RFAs and Programs Open for Applications”, click on the applicable link to Start a DISC Grant Application.
  3. Complete each section of the Application by clicking on the appropriate link and following the posted instructions. Proposal templates can be located and submitted under the “Uploads” section.
  4. To submit your Application, click on the “Done with Application” button. The “Done with Application” button will be enabled when all of the mandatory sections have been completed. Please note that once this has been selected, you will no longer be able to make changes to your Application.
  5. To confirm submission of your Application, select the tab labeled “Your Applications” and check the table under the section labeled “Your Submitted Applications”. You will see your Application number and project title listed once the submission process has been completed.

ICOC Approval:
March 28, 2024
Total Awards:
Award Value:


Institution Investigator Grant Title Award Value
Stanford University Xiaojie Qiu Mapping and modeling endothelial cell fate decisions for pulmonary arterial hypertension $1,540,798
Gladstone Institutes, J. David Dr. Steve M. Finkbeiner Lewy body dementia, 𝛼-synuclein, and cell-specific mechanisms of neurodegeneration $1,739,760
Minutia, Inc. Katy Digovich Immune cloaking of human stem cell-derived insulin-producing cells for curative cell therapy without immunosuppression $1,192,586
University of California, San Francisco Tomasz Nowakowski Neuroimmune interactions in the developing human brain $1,626,000
University of California, Los Angeles Dr. M. Carrie Miceli Interrogating Satellite Cell and Myofiber Defects and Repair in Human DMD using Single Nuclei/Single Cell RNA Sequencing of Muscle Resident Cells $1,578,000
University of California, San Diego Dr Marianna Alperin Harnessing the rejuvenating capacity of pregnancy-associated factors to restore aged stem cell function $1,539,520
Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute Aniruddha Deshpande Investigating the SGF29/SAGA complex in regulation of normal and cancer stem cells $1,547,999
Cedars-Sinai Medical Center Tyler Mark Pierson Modeling of GATAD2B-associated neurodevelopmental disorder and NuRDopathies: Investigation of cellular & molecular anomalies altering neurodevelopment $1,318,441
University of California, Los Angeles Michael F Wells Village-based identification of human risk factors for viral neuropathogenesis $1,577,448
City of Hope, Beckman Research Institute Qiong Annabel Wang Utilizing Age-Specific Adipocyte Progenitor Cells for Cell Therapy in Older Patients $1,508,997
Lundquist Institute for Biomedical Innovation at Harbor – UCLA Medical Center Denise Al Alam Modeling and understanding alveolar hypoplasia in Down syndrome using iPSCs-derived alveolar type II cells $1,524,196
University of California, San Francisco Faranak Fattahi hPSC-derived enteric ganglioids for cell therapy in gastrointestinal motility disorders $1,589,307
University of California, Los Angeles Dr. William Lowry Dr. Defining the source of dysfunction in monogenic Intellectual Disability Syndrome neurons $1,500,337
University of California, Santa Cruz Maximilian Haeussler An interactive data resource for hypothesis testing in stem cell single-cell gene expression and validation of the results with brain organoids $1,160,126
University of California, Los Angeles Dr. Kathrin Plath Dr. Characterization and applications of human blastoids for understanding early human embryogenesis $1,402,137
University of California, San Francisco Tien Peng Ex vivo fate mapping of human lung stem cell plasticity in fibrotic disease $1,625,998
University of California, Los Angeles Dr. Brigitte N Gomperts Overcoming barriers for airway stem cell gene therapy for Cystic Fibrosis $1,472,858
University of California, San Francisco Erik Ullian Modeling Retinitis Pigmentosa using patient-derived human iPSC organoids $1,380,543
University of California, Irvine Albert La Spada Ph.D. Role of ataxin-3 polyadenylation site selection in ALS neuron toxicity and disease pathogenesis $1,514,416
University of California, Irvine Dr. Brian J. Cummings Mapping the spatial and temporal responses of hESC-derived microglia to repeat mild closed head injury to identify therapeutic targets and mechanisms $1,339,685
University of California, San Francisco Tomasz Nowakowski Identifying roadblocks to neural stem cell transplantation into human tissues. $1,551,394
Scripps Research Institute Xin Jin Functional genomics to study cellular convergence across ASD risk genes in neurodevelopment $1,575,001
University of California, Los Angeles Dr. Gay Miriam Crooks Engineering pluripotent stem cells for universally available, off-the-shelf T cell therapies $1,352,753
University of California, San Diego Dr. Alon Goren Establishment of a novel approach to systematically study the dynamic organization of protein complexes in stem cells $1,515,601
University of California, San Francisco Dr. Elizabeth Crouch Harnessing vascular stem cells to grow and protect the human brain $1,391,998
University of California, Santa Cruz Dr. Camilla Forsberg Determining how age-specific heterogeneity of human hematopoietic stem cells and megakaryocyte progenitors contribute to thrombotic disease upon aging $1,336,800
University of California, San Francisco Yin Shen PhD Understanding Chemotherapy-Induced Peripheral Neuropathy Mechanisms using CRISPRi and Chemical Screens in Human iPSC-Derived Sensory Neurons $1,621,913
Cedars-Sinai Medical Center Dmitriy Sheyn The role of WNT and BMP signaling pathways in iPSC to iTenocyte step-wise differentiation for tendon repair $1,516,563
Gladstone Institutes, J. David Julia Kaye Developing a Human Model of Sporadic ALS Using Machine Learning and Robotic Microscopy $1,406,622
Greenstone Biosciences, Inc. Dr. Mukhtar Mukhtar Ahmed Drug Discovery for Dilated Cardiomyopathy using Patient-Derived Human iPSCs $1,350,000
Stanford University Dr. Marius Wernig MD, PhD Developing a microglia replacement therapy $1,378,365
University of California, San Diego Heidi Cook-Andersen Towards a trophectoderm stem-cell model representing human blastocysts of the highest implantation potential $1,584,000
University of California, San Diego Dr. Alexis Komor Development of a stem-cell based approach to interpret global effects of genetic variants contributing to neurodevelopmental disease risk $1,518,982
University of California, San Francisco Dr. Robert Blelloch MD, PHD. Development of universal off-the-shelf iPSC derived dendritic cells for use as patient specific anti-tumor vaccine $1,391,999
University of California, Berkeley Dr. Michael P. Rapé Dr. Control of OCT4 abundance and function in human stem cells $1,234,023
University of California, San Francisco Harold A. Chapman Modulation of human alveolar stem cells to promote lung regeneration and avoid pulmonary fibrosis $1,626,001
University of California, Los Angeles Dr Melissa Jan Spencer Engineering AAV capsids for transduction of neural and muscle stem cells $999,999
University of California, San Diego Francesca Soncin Drivers of trophoblast stem/progenitor cell identity in human placenta $993,881
University of California, Irvine Momoko Watanabe Generation of cortical organoids with tunable areal identities by spatial engineering of morphogens $0