UCSD scientists awarded $2.7M grants for stem cell research

LA JOLLA (CNS) – Two scientists with UC San Diego were awarded a combined $2.7 million in grants from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine to pursue their studies on stem cell therapies, the school announced Monday.

Shyni Varghese, an associate professor in the Department of Bioengineering and director of the Bio-Inspired Materials and Stem Cell Engineering Laboratory, received a $1.4 CIRM grant to improve the function of transplanted stem cells.

Shaochen Chen, a professor in the Department of Nanoengineering in the Jacobs School of Engineering and a member of UCSD’s Institute of Engineering in Medicine, received $1.3 million to develop three-diminensional bioprinting techniques that use heart muscle cells derived from human embryonic stem cells to create new cardiac tissue.

The awards were part of almost $30 million in grants announced at CIRM’s monthly meeting in San Francisco, according to UCSD.

“Sometimes even the most promising therapy can be derailed by a tiny problem,” said Jonathan Thomas, chairman of the CIRM Board of Directors. “These awards are designed to help find ways to overcome those problems, to bridge the gaps in our knowledge and ensure that the best research is able to keep progressing and move out of the lab and into clinical trials in patients.”

Varghese’s lab focuses on the interactions of cells with their surrounding micro-environment, and how the conditions necessary to promote normal, healthy survival and growth occur, according to UCSD.

Chen’s studies focus on using stem cells to create new heart tissue that would help patients when transplants aren’t immediately available.

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