laboratory glassware
"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 dying in shelters.

How big of a problem is shelter euthanasia?  »

According to the Best Friends National Animal Shelter Statistics Dashboard, 4.76 million cats and dogs entered US shelters in 2023. Of those, 3.97 million animals were saved, but 380,000 did not experience live outcomes.

Why a prize and grants 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 Michelson 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.

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

Our funded projects can be categorized by the following approaches:

  • Genetic modification (gene silencing, gene transfer, etc.)
  • Targeted delivery of cytotoxins
  • Immunocontraception
  • Long-term delivery of deslorelin

We welcome letters of intent and proposals testing other innovative approaches, in addition to those listed above. For more information about our funded projects, view our Research Findings.

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.

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?  »

Applicants 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 applicants wish to apply for research funding to test the approach in the target species, they will be expected to utilize cat and/or dog facilities at their own institution, at the facilities of an appropriate collaborator, or at a Contract Research Organization (CRO).

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

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

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

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

Are post docs eligible to apply?  »

Yes, post docs are eligible to apply.

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. Foundation staff will work with applicants to determine a timely proposal deadline that is convenient for all parties.

What is your rate of success for submitted proposals?  »

To date, 33% of letters of intent and 32% of proposals submitted have been approved by reviewers on our Scientific Advisory Board.

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 if invited to do so by the Foundation. Proposal resubmissions must be submitted within one year of the date of 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 would charge the applicant for the proposed work.

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 precautions are taken to ensure the welfare of the animals involved in the research that you fund?  »

The Michelson Found Animals Foundation and the Michelson Prize & Grants program work to ensure that each and every animal involved in a Foundation-funded research study receives excellent, compassionate care, and that no animal is harmed unnecessarily. All animal research funded by the Foundation through the MPG program or performed in pursuit of the Michelson Prize in Reproductive Biology (whether funded by the Foundation or not) must conform to the Foundation’s Policy for Animals Involved in Research. Documentation of compliance with this policy is required in proposals submitted for MPG program funding consideration, and helps to ensure the health and well-being of all animals affected by the Foundation’s work. To learn more, visit our Policy for Animals Involved in Research page.

What are 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.