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“This is a great quest and we are proud to be a part of it. We owe it to our four legged friends, and at the same time, the technologies we are developing may also help cancer patients.” R. Scott Struthers, PhD, Crinetics Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Michelson Grant Recipient

Frequently Asked Questions

Why would a nonsurgical sterilant impact the number of animals euthanized in shelters? »

Animal welfare experts have long identified sterilization as key to reducing shelter euthanasia of companion animals. While surgical spay/neuter procedures are the current standard for sterilizing cats and dogs, they are not a perfect approach because they require general anesthesia, an adequately equipped surgical facility, and more veterinarians than are currently available. In general, a veterinarian can perform no more than 35 spays (ovariohysterectomies) per day. A nonsurgical sterilant would address the limitations of surgical spay/neuter and allow animal welfare organizations to sterilize those populations of animals driving shelter intake, thereby reducing the number of animals entering and killed in shelters.

How big is the problem? »

Each year, 6-8 million cats and dogs enter US shelters, and 3-4 million of these animals are killed due to lack of adoptive homes. US taxpayers pay an estimated $1 billion per year to fund this ineffectual system.

In addition, approximately 55,000 people worldwide die every year from rabies, which is most commonly caused by bites from infected feral dogs.

Why a prize and grant approach? »

Incentivizing progress with large cash prizes has been a catalyst for great acts for hundreds of years. In the 1700s, prizes were offered by the Parliament of the United Kingdom for breakthroughs in the accurate measurement of longitude. In 1927, Charles Lindbergh won the $25,000 Orteig Prize by proving it was possible to fly across the Atlantic. And in recent years, the XPRIZE reinvigorated the concept of prize philanthropy with its multi-million dollar prizes for everything from privatized spaceflight to building a car with a fuel economy of 100 MPG.

As effective as these challenges can be, they have one primary limitation: innovators interested in throwing their hat in the ring have historically needed to be able to fund their bid for the prize. Found Animals designed the Michelson Prize & Grants to overcome this limitation. Scientists interested in competing for the $25M Michelson Prize can apply for a Michelson Grant to fund their research in pursuit of the Prize. When they think they have the product, Found Animals will pay a Contract Research Organization (CRO) to test it, and will finance manufacturing and commercialization to bring the product to market. So, in addition to one entity ultimately winning the $25M Prize, the competitors won’t have had to fund their own work out of pocket. The more experts able to compete for the big win, the higher the likelihood of getting to our goal with velocity.

Are the criteria the same for the Michelson Grants and the Michelson Prize? »

Proposed research is not required to generate results that meet all of the Michelson Prize criteria in order to be funded; however, strong preference will be given to projects with the potential to produce a prize-winning product or technology, and approaches must represent a significant improvement over existing products. Grant recipients are eligible to make claims for the Michelson Prize in the event that their research generates a product or technology that meets all the criteria.

Must an investigator receive a Michelson Grant prior to applying for the Michelson Prize? »

No. Investigators may apply for the Michelson Prize regardless of whether or not they have received a Michelson Grant.

Is the program only open to researchers who are US citizens? »

The Michelson Prize & Grants is an international program, open to any person, group, or collaborative team from any country.

Can investigators at private for-profit companies apply for funding? »

Yes, Found Animals has awarded research grants to investigators at for-profit companies.

Are post docs eligible to apply? »

Yes, post docs are eligible.

Do investigators need to have a background in cat and dog reproduction in order to apply? »

No. Depending on the nature of the research approach, it is recommended that investigators who do not have a background in theriogenology consult with a reproductive biologist and review the Resources available on this website. Applicants are also encouraged to consider including a reproductive biologist as a co-investigator on their projects.

Do applicants for the Michelson Grants need to have access to cat and dog facilities? »

Investigators who submit "proof of concept" proposals in cell culture and/or rodent models are not required to have access to cat and dog facilities. Should the investigator wish to apply for research funding to test the approach in the target species, he or she will be expected to utilize cat and/or dog facilities at his or her own institution, at the facilities of an appropriate collaborator, or at a Contract Research Organization (CRO).

Do you coordinate collaborations between investigators? »

We do not coordinate collaborations between investigators; however, contact information for all Michelson Grant-funded researchers is available should an applicant wish to propose a collaborative effort.

When are letters of intent and proposals due for the Michelson Grants? »

There is no deadline for submitting a letter of intent; they are accepted and reviewed on an ongoing basis. If a letter of intent is approved, the applicant will be invited to submit a full grant proposal and will be provided with the guidelines for proposal submission. Proposals must be submitted within two cycles of approval of the LOI.

What types of approaches have been funded thus far by the Michelson Grants? »

We have funded proposals for scientific research using one of the three broad approaches listed below, but we always welcome letters of intent/proposals testing other innovative approaches:

  • Silencing of genes essential for reproduction
  • Immunocontraception
  • Targeted delivery of cytotoxins
For more information about our funded projects, view our Research Findings.

What is your rate of success for submitted proposals? »

To date, approximately 35% of letters of intent and 30% of proposals submitted have been approved.

Are investigators able to resubmit if their letter of intent or proposal is initially disapproved? »

Feedback from Scientific Advisory Board reviewers is provided to applicants at both the LOI and proposal stages. Applicants may submit revised LOIs and proposals incorporating reviewer feedback only when invited by the Foundation. Proposal resubmissions must be submitted within two grant cycles of the initial proposal disapproval.

Are preliminary data required? »

Preliminary data should be provided to justify the proposed approach. These data may have been generated in the applicant’s laboratory, another laboratory, or may be referenced from the literature.

Do Michelson Grants cover indirect costs? »

Indirect costs are limited to 8% of direct costs and may only be claimed if the applicant’s institution charges him/her for work carried out in the proposal.

On what criteria are proposals evaluated? »

Proposals are evaluated by the Scientific Advisory Board on the following six criteria:

  • Scientific Merit
  • Innovation
  • Prize Criteria
  • Budget and Timeline
  • Animal Welfare
  • Investigators’ Credentials

What are the Found Animals’ requirements with regard to IP for funded research? »

Found Animals seeks first right of refusal for an exclusive license for any technologies developed out of Michelson Grant funded research. To learn more, click to view information about our Grant Agreements.