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Chan Zuckerberg Initiative Awards $14M in Grants for Cellular Analysis Tool Development

NEW YORK — The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative last week announced that it has awarded roughly $14 million in grant funding to four research groups developing new tools and technologies for analyzing cells and biomolecules.

The funding is being provided under CZI's Exploratory Cell Networks program, with each multiyear grant worth between $3 million and $4 million.

One grant went to a team of scientists from the California Institute of Technology; the University of California, Los Angeles; and the University of Southern California who are developing technologies to study and control how tissues and organs develop their layered structure with synthetic cell receptors, beginning with muscle and immune cells. The researchers also aim to develop new lab-on-a-particle approaches to probe the interactions between individual cells that drive cellular function on a large scale.

Another award went to investigators from the Salk Institute for Biological Studies; Scripps Research; and the University of California, San Diego to support their efforts to create novel technologies to understand how cells respond and adapt to genetic and environmental stresses, including aging and diseases linked to RNA dysregulation such as Alzheimer’s disease.

Also receiving CZI funding are researchers from Duke University, NC State University, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill who are building tools for monitoring and manipulating protein kinases, which could help in studying cellular organization, nervous system function, and neurological diseases.

Another award was given to scientists from Princeton University, Rockefeller University, and the University of Pennsylvania to develop technologies to clarify how RNA and proteins move and are metabolized within cells, specifically membrane-less compartments in cells.

"To unravel the mysteries of the cell, we need new technologies, and the Exploratory Cell Networks grants support early-stage tech development driven by collaborations across regional labs," Stephen Quake, head of science at CZI, said in a statement. "These teams are developing novel tools and approaches to understanding, measuring, and engineering cells and molecules that are critical to building virtual cell models, which will open the door to new discoveries about human health and disease."

In October, CZI established a new biomedical research hub in New York to create new technologies for characterizing and bioengineering immune cells.