Student-Postdoctoral Fellow Stem Cell Challenge Grants

USC's stem cell research center
USC's stem cell research center (Photo by Ben Gibbs)

To stimulate interdisciplinary stem cell research across USC


USC Stem Cell invites applications for the Student-Postdoctoral Fellow Stem Cell Challenge Grants. The goal of the program is to stimulate new interdisciplinary stem cell research across the USC community, and to provide a means of enhancing student/postdoc creativity and independence. Proposals should be initiated by graduate students and/or postdoctoral fellows. An additional goal of this program is to stimulate future K- or F-series NIH training grant proposals, or other parent lab collaborative grant opportunities.

Rules of the program

1) Proposed project must be a new collaboration between students and/or postdocs from two or more labs within the USC community, and be related to stem cell biology/regenerative medicine, broadly defined; cross-disciplinary research will be strongly favored, and proposals must be feasible as a one-year project. Projects may complement, but should not replicate ongoing projects from parent labs; projects must, nevertheless, represent work that is an allowed expense by the sponsor of the student’s or postdoc’s effort at USC. Mentors may advise and must agree to the proposed collaboration but should not have a direct role in formulating or writing the proposal. Each recipient will devote 10–20% of research time to the collaborative effort, consistent with acceptable use of time established by the sponsors of their appointment at USC.

2) Up to three grants may be funded in the first round of funding depending on proposal review and recommendation. Each proposal carries a budget of up to $15,000.

3) A letter of support from each mentor must accompany the application. While the student/postdoc teams will devise and carry out the projects in their mentors’ labs, the respective lab heads will continue to be responsible for the conduct of the projects and will serve as advisors on the project.

4) The grant money is designated for direct research expenses (research reagents and supplies) and/or stipend supplements for “dry bench” researchers.

5) Proposal review will be by a committee of USC Stem Cell faculty. Awardees will present their work at the end of the funding period (date and venue to be determined) and prepare a brief written report.

The application

Questions and application submissions: Dr. Qing Liu-Michael,

Applications should be no more than 2 pages including the following elements:

  • Specific Aims
  • Background/Significance
  • Research Plan
  • Methodology (brief, but should include sufficient detail to assure that resources for completing the project will be available to the team)

A brief budget and biosketch for each applicant should be included outside of the two-page limit.

Applications due by June 26th, 2020 for an anticipated start date of September 1st, 2020