Summer 2023

Organoids in a Dish

Request for Proposals for Innovative Medicines using Epithelial Organoids in a Dish

Stanford University’s Innovative Medicines Accelerator (IMA) is accepting proposals for projects that leverage a recent technological advance in human organ modeling to address the IMA’s goals of accelerating the prototyping of innovative medicines and vaccines and enabling hypothesis-driven studies on human subjects. Successful projects will utilize patient-derived epithelial organoids-in-a-dish provided by the Kuo Lab as a model system to address a significant unmet medical need.

By culturing organoids in a petri-dish, Stanford researchers have developed a system that allows the propagation of primary epithelial cells of various organs in the body, including intestine, stomach, pancreas, lung, and others (Nature (2020) Dec;588(7839):670-675; Cancer Discovery (2021) Jun;11(6):1562-1581; Kuo Lab website). Such epithelial organoids have been successfully used to interrogate healthy and diseased states. These cultures now allow researchers to explore precision medicine applications of epithelial organoids, including testing experimental medicines on patient-derived organoids. Through this RFP, the IMA seeks to support meritorious projects targeted at using patient-derived organoids to develop critical assays for informing the selection of innovative drug candidates. A successful outcome of a project could involve onboarding it into one of the IMA’s Drug and Vaccine Prototyping Modules or through licensing of resulting tools and methods to an external organization engaged in the discovery and development of innovative medicines.

This RFP specifically supports organoids exclusively comprised of epithelial cells, as opposed to those that also contain mesenchymal stroma and/or immune elements. The use of epithelial organoids from any healthy or diseased tissue is allowable.

Support Provided:

Successful applicants will receive up to $100K for a period of 12 months. An additional year of support may be available for projects, contingent upon progress toward a clearly defined goal of enabling drug discovery. The award supports materials/supplies and can support salary/stipend for postdocs and graduate students. This award does not support faculty time.

Awardees will receive access to patient-derived organoids-in-a-dish and the expertise of the Kuo Lab. Initial training for the organoid-in-a-dish system will occur in the Kuo Lab. After the initial training, awardees will conduct experiments within their own laboratory. Awardees should have BSL-2 cell culture experience and will need to complete bloodborne pathogen training and any other biosafety training measures that are relevant to their projects.


All application materials must be received by 11:59 PM on September 1, 2023. Applications must be submitted through SlideRoom.


All Stanford faculty with PI eligibility are welcome to apply.

Application Instructions:

Submit one PDF file containing the following materials in the order indicated below. All documents should be single-spaced, Arial 11-point font with 0.5-inch margins.

  1. Title page (1 page)
    1. “Request for Proposals for Innovative Medicines using Epithelial Organoids in a Dish”
    2. Project title
    3. Investigator(s): Name, department, address, phone number, email address
    4. Application summary (150 words) – Please provide a high-level description of the project that highlights the target disease, the experimental strategy, and why the organoid platform is essential for success of the proposed project. Describe how the proposed project will impact drug or vaccine prototyping, if successful. Emphasize what is novel about the approach.
  2. Proposal (3 pages maximum)
    1. Therapeutic or Prophylactic hypothesis – Describe the therapeutic or prophylactic hypothesis and its supporting evidence. Successful applications will clearly explain the value proposition of a patient-derivedorganoid assay system for prototyping a specific medicine or vaccine. Provide preliminary data, if available.
    2. Technical summary – Briefly describe the proposed research with a focus on the requisite assays involving the organoids-in-a-dish platform and expected outcomes.
    3. Describe research goals as deliverables including at least one goal that will enable drug or vaccine prototyping. Research goals should be achievable within 12 months.
    4. Required: Indicate whether the project will use pediatric and/or adult samples, healthy and/or diseased samples, organ of origin, the required number of organoids, and number of patients from which the organoids are derived.
    5. Required: Proposals should detail who from the applicant’s lab will receive organoid culture training from the Kuo Lab. The designated person(s) should have aseptic cell culture experience and should have completed Bloodborne Pathogens (EHS-1600, EHS 1601) prior to training with the Kuo Lab.
  3. References
  4. NIH format budget with justification, direct costs only (PI salary support is not provided)
  5. NIH-format biosketch for each investigator

Applications should be submitted directly through the ChEM-H SlideRoom portal. You do not need to submit your applications to your Research Process Manager (RPM) in RMG or through your Office of Sponsored Research (OSR) Contract and Grant officer (CGO) for their approval at this time.

Selection Process & Timeline:

Proposals will be reviewed by a faculty panel and evaluated according to the following criteria:

  • Significance of the medical need
  • Novelty of the approach
  • Relevance of the organoid platform to the proposed research
  • Goal-oriented research plans that work towards achieving milestones and key deliverables within the proposed time frame

Applications are due by 11:59PM on September 1, 2023. Finalists will be selected by end of November 2023 for immediate launch of research projects.

For questions about the funding opportunity, please contact:
Jason Pellman, Ph.D.
Scientific Program Manager
Innovative Medicines Accelerator

For questions about IMA, please contact:
Chaitan Khosla, Ph.D.
Director of the Stanford Innovative Medicines Accelerator
Professor, Departments of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering