Respiratory Disease Fact Sheet

CIRM funds many projects seeking to better understand respiratory disease and to translate those discoveries into new therapies.


Severe blockage of the major airway,  or trachea, is relatively rare but is severely debilitating and often causes death. Estimates suggest 200 new cases occur in California each year. The blockage most often occurs after injury, treatment for a tumor or following insertion of a breathing tube for other medical procedures. Physicians currently treat these blockages through surgery or by using a stent to hold the airway open. But neither approach produces very good or lasting results. Replacing the damaged trachea with a new one could be a potential cure. A few teams around the world are working with different types of natural and synthetic scaffolds to try to grow new tracheas for transplant using stem cells.

Clinical Stage Programs

University of California, Davis

The team uses a trachea from a cadaver as a scaffold, removing the soft tissue cells and then seeding the remaining scaffold with two types of stem cells from the patient. That construct is grown in a bioreactor until it is ready for transplant in the patient. The team has already used the procedure through the European compassionate use exemption in five dying patients, saving three of their lives. They plan to use this award to do tests in non-human primates to better understand the role of each type of stem cell used to seed the scaffold.

CIRM grants targeting respiratory disorders

Researcher name Institution Grant Title Grant Type Award Amount
Barry Stripp Cedars-Sinai Medical Center Epithelial progenitors and the stromal niche as therapeutic targets in lung disease Research Leadership $4,841,830
Brigitte Gomperts University of California, Los Angeles Stem Cells for Lung Diseases - Overcoming Barriers to Find New Therapies Conference - Lung Regenerative Medicine Workshop $44,548
Matthew Porteus Stanford University Genome Editing to Correct Cystic Fibrosis Mutations in Airway Stem Cells Quest - Discovery Stage Research Projects $1,968,456
Semil Choksi University of California, San Francisco Generation of human airway stem cells by direct transcriptional reprogramming for disease modeling and regeneration Inception - Discovery Stage Research Projects $238,408
Brigitte Gomperts University of California, Los Angeles Identifying a lead compound for COVID19 using high throughput screening with lung stem cell organoids Discovery Research Projects $149,998
Gay Crooks University of California, Los Angeles Stem cell-based rapid identification of SARS-CoV-2 T cell epitopes and T cell receptors for therapeutic use Discovery Research Projects $126,692
John Zaia City of Hope, Beckman Research Institute Evaluation and Characterization of SARS-CoV-2 Antibody in Convalescent Volunteer Plasma Donors for Potential Therapeutic Use Clinical Trial Stage Projects $999,999
William van der Touw Celularity Inc. A phase I/II study of human placental hematopoietic stem cell derived natural killer cells (CYNK-001) for the treatment of adults with COVID-19 Clinical Trial Stage Projects $315,000
PREET Chaudhary University of Southern California Chimeric Antigen Receptor Targeting Spike Glycoprotein of SARS-cov2 Discovery Research Projects $248,125
Evan Snyder Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute Using hiPSC-derived lung organoids, a clinically-relevant system, to validate & winnow a list of approved drugs that inhibit SARS-CoV-2 cytopathy Discovery Research Projects $228,229
Karen Christman University of California, San Diego Pro-healing biomaterial for treating lung inflammation associated with COVID-19 Discovery Research Projects $221,758
Harold Chapman University of California, San Francisco Modulation of human alveolar stem cells to promote lung regeneration and avoid pulmonary fibrosis Foundation - Discovery Stage Research Projects $1,626,001
Brigitte Gomperts University of California, Los Angeles Stem Cells in Lung Cancer New Faculty II $2,381,572
Marco Quarta Rubedo Life Sciences Inc. Pharmacological regenerative treatment of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis targeting the senescent niche of lung progenitor cells. Quest - Discovery Stage Research Projects $1,450,876
Martin Birchall University of California, Davis Airways for Children Disease Team Therapy Planning I $19,800
Brigitte Gomperts University of California, Los Angeles Overcoming barriers for airway stem cell gene therapy for Cystic Fibrosis Foundation - Discovery Stage Research Projects $1,472,858
Brigitte Gomperts University of California, Los Angeles Using human induced pluripotent stem cells to improve our understanding of Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis Tissue Collection for Disease Modeling $811,231
TIEN PENG University of California, San Francisco Ex vivo fate mapping of human lung stem cell plasticity in fibrotic disease Foundation - Discovery Stage Research Projects $1,625,998
Peter Belafsky University of California, Davis Tissue Engineered Recellularized Laryngotracheal Implants Disease Team Therapy Development III $3,181,162

CIRM respiratory disorders videos

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Disease Programs

Learn about how CIRM-funded stem cell research could generate treatments for many chronic diseases and injuries.

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