Innovation Fund

Researchers sit side by side in front of a hooded laboratory bench at UCLA.

Groundbreaking research that changes the course of human health often begins with creative, ambitious and unconventional ideas. However, in the current funding climate, scientists are finding it increasingly difficult to secure funding for bold, innovative research endeavors.

That's where philanthropy comes in. Donations of all sizes support our trailblazing researchers as they work toward developing novel treatments and diagnostic tools for some of society’s most vexing medical conditions including cancer, heart disease, immune disorders, dementias, blindness and more.

Much of the philanthropic support we receive is strategically invested through our Innovation and Transformative Technology Development Award programs.

Philanthropy is key to pursuing innovative science. The donor contributions we received have allowed us to perform cutting-edge research that is too nascent to be supported by standard funding mechanisms, helping us take our early ideas and data to the next level.

  • Professor and Vice Chair, Microbiology, Immunology and Molecular Genetics
Headshot of April Pyle

Program Overview

Awards are given to multi-disciplinary projects that show potential to expand our understanding of the body's inherent regenerative processes and set the foundation for the translation of new discoveries into clinical practice.

Awardees are selected through a highly competitive review process led by Dr. Thomas Rando, our center director, in consultation with scientific advisors, who are experts in their respective fields.

Photo of BSCRC researcher Bennett Novitch
Innovation Award recipient Bennett Novitch, Ph.D., uses mini brain organoids to study neurological development and disease.

Innovation Awards

This program supports cutting-edge ventures that span the translational continuum, from trailblazing concepts too early in development to compete for external funding to promising therapeutic candidates that require additional resources to traverse the gap — often called the “valley of death” — between discovery and clinical trial where promising therapies are often abandoned due to a lack of financial resources.

The center distributes approximately 10 awards per year ranging from $50,000 to $250,000. Since 2008, more than 150 individual and collaborative awards have been allocated, fully funded by philanthropy, bringing total faculty research support from this program to more than $22 million.

Transformative Technology Development Awards

Our Transformative Technology Development Award program funds exploratory research projects focused on the inception or development of highly innovative technologies with significant transformative potential for stem cell science and regenerative medicine at UCLA. 

Awards support UCLA faculty seeking to develop innovative, stem-cell relevant technologies with broad, clear applications for the advancement of stem cell research.

These awards lay the foundation for new and improved technologies that address key gaps, overcome bottlenecks and strengthen our research capabilities.

The Innovation and Transformative Technology Development Award programs have proven to be extremely successful in catalyzing interdisciplinary collaborations, accelerating the pace of discovery and translation and helping faculty secure sizable grants from external sources. The dollar return on investment for such awards has been as high as 27 to one.

From healing those born with genetic diseases to regenerating tissues that have deteriorated with age, stem cells hold the potential to treat or cure a vast array of diseases and conditions. The center’s scientists are harnessing this potential and demonstrating that meaningful investments in research at the discovery and pre-clinical stages can yield tremendous results. 

Make a gift to our Innovation Fund today or contact our Director of Development Sabrina Ayala at or 310-321-8976 to learn more about contributing to the future of research and medicine.

Make a Gift Today