Scientists from UCLA’s Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research have received new awards from the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine (CIRM), the state stem cell research agency, that will forward revolutionary stem cell science in medicine.

Recipients included Dr. Lili Yang, assistant professor of microbiology, immunology and molecular genetics who received $614,400 for her project to develop a novel system for studying how stem cells become rare immune cells; Dr. Denis Evseenko, assistant professor of orthopedic surgery, who received $1,146,468 for his project to identify the elements of the biological niche in which stem cells grow most efficiently into articular cartilage cells; Dr. Thomas Otis, professor and chair of neurobiology, and Dr. Ben Novitch, assistant professor of neurobiology, who received $1,148,758 for their project using new light-based optigenetic techniques to study the communication between nerve and muscle cells in spinal muscular atrophy, an inherited degenerative neuromuscular disease in children; and Dr. Samantha Butler, assistant professor of neurobiology, received $598,367 for her project on discovering which molecular elements drive stem cells to become the neurons, or nerve cells, in charge of our sense of touch.