Inception – Discovery Stage Research Projects

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The mission of California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) is to accelerate stem cell treatments to patients with unmet medical needs. 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 1: The Inception Awards

The Inception Awards Program provides seed funding to support the exploration of transformational ideas that hold the potential to greatly impact the field of human stem cell research, but that require the generation of additional data to be competitive for larger funding opportunities through CIRM or other sources. 

Please see the Partnering Opportunity for Discovery Stage Research Projects page for the Inception 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:
November 30, 2017
Total Awards:
Award Value:


Institution Investigator Grant Title Award Value
University of California, San Diego Karl Karl J. Wahlin An IPSC cell based model of macular degeneration for drug discovery. $232,200
University of California, Los Angeles Alireza Moshaverinia Gingival mesenchymal stem cells as a novel treatment modality for periodontal tissue regeneration $194,483
Zenobia Therapeutics Vicki Nienaber A new phenotypic screening platform that identifies biologically-relevant targets and lead compounds for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease $112,500
Cedars-Sinai Medical Center Dmitriy Sheyn IVD rejuvenation using iPSC-derived notochordal cells $241,992
Loma Linda University Dr. David J Baylink Bone Marrow Targeting of Hematopoietic Stem Cells Engineered to Overexpress 25-OH-VD3 1-α-hydroxylase for Acute Myeloid Leukemia Therapy $178,967
Palo Alto Veterans Institute for Research Dr. Ngan F Huang iPSC-Derived Smooth Muscle Progenitors for Treatment of Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm $172,621
University of California, Davis Dr. Alice F Tarantal Enhanced Branching Morphogenesis and Pluripotent Cell Lineage Differentiation for Pediatric Regenerative Therapies $235,800
Loma Linda University Julia J. Unternaehrer-Hamm Targeting cancer stem cells with nanoparticle RNAi delivery to prevent recurrence and metastasis of ovarian cancer $172,870
Human BioMolecular Research Institute Dr. John R Cashman Human Pancreatic Cancer Stem Cells: Developing a Novel Drug for Cancer Eradication $303,785
Stanford University Professor Hiromitsu Nakauchi Optimizing self-renewal signaling kinetics to stabilize ex vivo hematopoietic stem cell expansion $210,906
University of California, San Diego Gerald P Morris Identification of antigenic neo-epitopes from in vitro reprogrammed human tissue precursors for regenerative therapy $193,500
University of California, Davis Alyssa Panitch PhD Development of treatments to improve healing of ischemic wounds $235,099
Stanford University Guillem Pratx Novel metabolic labeling method for tracking stem cells to irradiated salivary glands using PET $229,227
University of California, San Francisco Semil P Choksi Generation of human airway stem cells by direct transcriptional reprogramming for disease modeling and regeneration $238,408
University of California, Irvine Janet E Baulch An exosome-based translational strategy to mitigate Alzheimer’s disease neuropathology $157,650
University of California, San Diego Dr. Tannishtha Reya Reprogramming human stem cells for blood cell generation $210,060
Stanford University Dr. Helen M Blau Prodrug innovation to target muscle stem cells and enhance muscle regeneration $235,834
Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute Dr Alessandra Sacco Generation of expandable, self-renewing muscle stem cells for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy $252,000
University of California, San Francisco Sonja Schrepfer Hypo-immunogenic cardiac patches for myocardial regeneration $235,818
University of Southern California Biju B. Thomas A Novel Tissue Engineering Technique to Repair Degenerated Retina $215,133
Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles Dr. Senta Georgia Developing a personalized approach to beta cell replacement for patients with a genetic form of diabetes $179,995
Vitalant Research Institute Dr. Marcus Oliver Muench Modulating Liver Sinusoidal Endothelial Cell Permeability to Enhance Engraftment of Endothelial Cell Progenitors for the Treatment of Hemophilia A $180,000
Stanford University Jeffrey L Goldberg Embryonic Stem Cells for Corneal Endothelial Degeneration $235,836
University of California, Los Angeles Dr. Owen N Witte M.D. Identification of stem cell surface markers as potential therapeutic targets for advanced prostate cancer $209,160
University of California, San Diego Professor Alysson R Muotri Reverse transcriptase inhibitors as a novel therapeutic approach for neurological autoimmune disorders $210,060
University of California, Los Angeles Dr. April Pyle Ph.D. Novel Platforms to Enhance In Vivo Delivery of Skeletal Muscle Progenitor Cells from Human Pluripotent Stem Cells $230,400
University of California, Los Angeles Dr. Bennett G Novitch Ph.D. Organoid Modeling of Human Cortical Microcircuits $208,916
Cedars-Sinai Medical Center Professor Clive Niels Svendsen Blood Brain Barrier (BBB)-on-Chip: Development and validation of a novel iPS-based microfluidic model of the human BBB $241,992
University of California, San Francisco Dr. Holger F Willenbring Generation of bile duct-competent transplantable human liver organoids $206,460
University of California, Los Angeles Dr. Arjun Deb Targeting progenitors in scar tissue to reduce chronic scar burden $230,400
University of California, Berkeley Dr. Jacob Ellery Corn Ph.D Genome editing for causation and reversion of MPN-associated mutations in human hematopoietic stem cells $235,800
Stanford University Dr. Philip Arden Beachy PhD Curing bladder cancer by replacing corrupted urothelium with differentiated hES cells $210,906
University of California, San Diego Dionicio Siegel New Methods for the Chemical Expansion of Hematopoietic Stem and Progenitor Cells $232,200
Stanford University Dr. Bertha Chen Autologous iPSC-based therapy for radiation induced bladder injury $235,836
University of California, Los Angeles Dr. Thomas Carmichael M.D., Ph.D. iPS-Interneuron Transplantation for Neural Repair after Stroke $229,396
University of California, San Diego Karl Karl J. Wahlin Microenvironment based optimization of retinal induction using CRISPR-CAS9 reporter pluripotent stem cells as an expandable source of retinal progenitors and photoreceptors. $232,200
University of California, San Francisco Andrew Stephen Brack Examining the efficacy of GDF11 antibody as a rejuvenator of aged human muscle stem cell capacity and muscle repair . $180,000
Stanford University Dr. Phillip Chung-Ming Yang Activation of patient-specific endogenous myocardial repair through the exosomes generated from the hypoxic iPSC-derived cardiomyocytes (iCMs). $234,619
Cedars-Sinai Medical Center Linda Cambier Exosomal Y-RNAs as mediators of bioactivity of cardiac-derived cell therapy $181,063