Innovation Fund

Stem cell researchers in the lab

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 pioneering researchers as they work towards developing novel treatments and diagnostic tools for some of society’s most vexing medical conditions including cancer, heart disease, immune disorders, dementia and other neurological diseases and injuries, blindness and more.

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

These programs support leading-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.

Program Overview

Bennett Novitch

Innovation Award recipient Bennett Novitch uses mini brain organoids to study neurological development and disease.

Awards are given to multi-disciplinary projects that show potential to expand the 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 our Center Director, Dr. Thomas Rando, in consultation with scientific advisors, who are experts in their respective fields.

The Center distributes approximately 10 awards per year ranging from $50,000 to $250,000. Since 2006, more than 120 individual and collaborative awards have been allocated, fully funded by philanthropy, bringing total faculty research support from this program to more than $20million.

The Innovation and Research 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 23 to one.

Your Support Makes an Impact

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.