48 scientists receive funding from the Maryland Stem Cell Research Fund to further research

COLUMBIA, Md. (May 14, 2024)tedco logoThe Maryland Stem Cell Research Commission (“Commission”) is pleased to announce the next round of awards granting a total of more than $15.4 million. These awards are aimed at fostering groundbreaking research to enhance and propel stem cell treatments and technologies across Maryland.

Several esteemed scientists from various Maryland-based research institutions and companies have been selected as recipients in this grant cycle. Among the 48 distinguished awardees are academic researchers from prestigious institutions such as Johns Hopkins University; University of Maryland, Baltimore: University of Maryland, College Park; Lieber Institute for Brain Development; and the Hugo W. Moser Research Institute at Kennedy Krieger. Commercial sector entities like Seraxis Inc., Theradaptive, Inc., HOHCells, LLC, Agnos Therapeutics, Inc., and Reprocell U.S.A., Inc. were also awarded grants.

These pioneering researchers are addressing a wide array of medical conditions, ranging from sickle cell anemia, type I diabetes, cancer, dental diseases and chronic pain to diseases directed to skin, heart, bone, blood, digestive and central nervous system diseases.

Awardees submitted their proposals in response to the Commission's Request for Applications (RFAs) for the second funding round of fiscal year 2024. Earlier in the fiscal year, the Commission also allocated nearly $4 million in additional research grants.

"The caliber of applications received during this funding cycle was exceptional, resulting in a highly competitive selection process," remarked Diane Hoffmann, chair of the Commission. “We are excited to provide support to the recipients of this second round, with their proposals spanning early-stage research to clinical trials to building manufacturing capabilities. These awards truly embody the purpose and mission of the Maryland Stem Cell Research Fund."

ruchika headshot"The increase in the number of applications submitted underscores the heightened research and development activity in stem cell-based technologies in Maryland,” said Ruchika Nijhara, Ph.D., executive director of Maryland Stem Cell Research Fund (MSCRF). “This emphasizes the importance of continuing to foster and strengthen the stem cell and regenerative medicine ecosystem in our state and beyond. With new strategic initiatives, we aim to foster collaboration between the private and public sectors, strengthening the ecosystem and accelerating the development of impactful medical solutions that can transform human lives."

The second round of MSCRF awards for the 2024 fiscal year includes the following:

  • Launch: These awards are to encourage new and new-to-the-field faculty to bring innovative research and technology to the regenerative medicine field. Totaling $2,797,553, the Launch Award recipients are Gianluca Ursini, Ph.D. and Tomoyo Sawada, Ph.D. from the Lieber Institute for Brain Development; Renyuan Bai, Ph.D. from the Hugo W. Moser Research Institute at Kennedy Krieger; Man-Kyo Chung, Ph.D. from the University of Maryland, Baltimore; Li Yan, Ph.D. from the University of Maryland, College Park; and Payam Mohassel, Ph.D., Chun-Hyun Na, Ph.D. and Allen Eghrari, Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University.
  • Commercialization: These awards are for Maryland-based companies to develop new human stem cell-based products. Totaling $1,692,428, the Commercialization Award recipients are Jean-Philippe Richard, Ph.D. from Reprocell, U.S.A., Inc.; Mandeep Singh, Ph.D. from Agnos Therapeutics, Inc.; Xiaoming He, Ph.D. from HOH Cells, LLC; and William Rust, Ph.D. from Seraxis, Inc.
  • Clinical: This award is for universities/research institutes or companies that wish to conduct human stem cell-based clinical trials in the State of Maryland. Totaling $1,650,000, the Clinical Award recipients are Luis Garza, Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University and Luis Alvarez, Ph.D. from Theradaptive Inc.
  • Validation: This award supports faculty at Maryland-based universities/research institutes with intellectual property (IP) for human stem cell-based technologies that require additional validation. Totaling $500,000 the validation award recipients are Curt Civin, Ph.D. from the University of Maryland, Baltimore and Xinzhong Dong, Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University.
  • Discovery: These awards fund innovative ideas to develop novel human stem cell-based technologies and cures. Totaling $7,158,174, the Discovery Award recipients include Chulan Kwon, Ph.D., Emmanouil Tampakakis, Ph.D., Gabsang Lee, Ph.D., Hiromi Sesaki, Ph.D., Thomas Johnson, Ph.D., Xiaobo Mao, Ph.D., Charlotte Sumner, Ph.D., S. Amer Riazuddin, Ph.D., Zack Wang, Ph.D., Byoung Chol Oh, Ph.D., Sashank Reddy, Ph.D., Vasilki Machairak, Ph.D. and Annie Kathuria, Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University; and Raphael Meier, Ph.D., Ivy Dick, Ph.D., Xiaofeng Jia, Ph.D., Yajie Liang, Ph.D., Miroslaw Janowski, Ph.D., Graeme Woodworth, Ph.D., Chengyan Chu, Ph.D. and Iris Lindberg, Ph.D. from the University of Maryland, Baltimore.
  • Post-Doctoral Fellowship: These awards support exceptional post-doctoral fellows conducting research in Maryland. Totaling $1,300,000, award recipients include Neelima Thottappillil, Ph.D., Cristina Zivko, Ph.D., Mohit Kwatra, Ph.D., Feiyu Yang, Ph.D., Heng Zhao, Ph.D. and Ridzky Yuda, Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University; Jinghui Wang, Ph.D. and Shalini Sharma, Ph.D. from the University of Maryland, Baltimore; and Niannian Xu, Ph.D. and Wenshen Wang, Ph.D. from the Hugo W. Moser Research Institute at Kennedy Krieger.
  • Manufacturing Assistance: These awards provide companies with funding to support the manufacturing processes/infrastructure of stem cell therapy products in Maryland. Totaling $344,402, the Manufacturing Assistance Award recipient is Evelyn Chukwurah from Reprocell, U.S.A., Inc.

Governor Wes Moore and the Maryland General Assembly have earmarked $20.5 million for fiscal year 2025 to support the MSCRF, reaffirming the state's enduring dedication to promoting innovative research in stem cell and regenerative medicine within Maryland.

"This sustained financial backing is essential for propelling capital and time-intensive stem cell technologies from bench to bedside," said Nijhara.

The Commission is gearing up to release Requests for Applications (RFAs) for its first round of FY25 funding and anticipates an acceleration of pioneering research and innovative cures through the various programs of MSCRF.

More information about all current MSCRF awardees is available at https://www.mscrf.org/awardees.

About the Maryland Stem Cell Research Commission 
The Maryland Stem Cell Research Commission is focused on identifying and fostering cutting-edge research and innovation in the field of regenerative medicine in Maryland. Our Accelerating Cures initiative comprises programs that help transition human stem cell-based technologies from the bench to the bedside as well as mechanisms to build and grow stem cell companies in Maryland. Visit us at www.mscrf.org to learn more about our funding opportunities.

TEDCO, the Maryland Technology Development Corporation, enhances economic empowerment growth through the fostering of an inclusive entrepreneurial innovation ecosystem. TEDCO identifies, invests in, and helps grow technology and life science-based companies in Maryland. Learn more at www.tedcomd.com.


Ruchika Nijhara, PhD, MBA, Executive Director, MSCRF, mscrfinfo@tedcomd.com

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Tammi Thomas, Chief Development & Marketing Officer, TEDCO, tthomas@tedcomd.com