Agency provides Department with $1.2M grant to support translational orthopaedic research in muscle stem cells

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Dr. Brian Feeley, at left, and Dr. Xuhui Liu, Co-Directors of the UCSF Muscle Stem Cell Lab, received a CIRM grant to continue their research in regenerative medicine. (COURTESY PHOTOS)

SAN FRANCISCO (Feb. 17, 2022) -- The UCSF Department of Orthopaedic Surgery is pleased to announce that Brian Feeley, MD and Xuhui Liu, MD, Co-Directors of the UCSF Muscle Stem Cell Lab, received a $1.2M grant from the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) this week to continue pursuing their translational research in regenerative medicine.

The grant, entitled "Matrix Assisted Cell Transplantation of Promyogenic Fibroadipogenic Progenitor (FAP) Stem Cells," seeks to determine how muscle stem cells can be activated to be transplanted into patients with chronic muscle conditions, such as rotator cuff or spine degeneration.  To support this research, the CIRM grant will provide $1,179,478 of funding over the next two years.

“This grant will allow us to continue to look at how muscle stem cells within our own body can be used to improve outcomes from musculoskeletal conditions such as rotator cuff tears, low back pain, and muscle injury,” said Dr. Feeley, an orthopaedic surgeon who also serves as chief of the UCSF Sports Medicine and Shoulder Service. "The goal of this project is to advance our basic science data into the clinics quickly.”

“Muscle stem cells -- adult stem cells present in skeletal muscle tissue – are capable of self-renewal, giving way to healthy skeletal muscle cells,” said Dr. Liu. “For this project we are going to evaluate the ability of our own muscle stem cell to be grown and implanted into a scaffold and help degenerated muscle recover, similar to what we can do with cartilage implantation in the knee. “

“Our work is in partnership with Dr. Kevin Healy,” Dr. Feeley added. Dr. Healy is the Jan Fandrianto Distinguished Professor in Engineering at the University of California at Berkeley in the Departments of Bioengineering, and Materials Science and Engineering, who adds his expertise in the use of highly specialized scaffolds to hold the cells for durable implantation of the stem cells.  

“This grant allows us to take a lot of the more basic work we have done on muscle stem cells, determining what activates them, and what allows them to become regenerative, and translate it into treatments for patients in the near future ,” Dr. Feeley said.

To learn more about the UCSF Muscle Stem Cell Lab, please visit

To learn more about CIRM, visi