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

Scientific Advisory Board

The Scientific Advisory Board of the Michelson Prize & Grants program is composed of world-class leaders from the scientific research and veterinary medical communities. Our advisors have an average of 30 years of relevant professional experience in areas such as reproductive biology, immunology, laboratory animal welfare, and regulatory affairs. The board provides valuable feedback to grant applicants at both the letter of intent and proposal stages.

 

Thomas J. Conlon, PhD
Thomas J. Conlon, PhD
Michelson Found Animals Foundation, Los Angeles, CA
Chief Scientific Officer and Chair of Scientific Advisory Board

Dr. Conlon is the Chief Scientific Officer of the Michelson Found Animals Foundation and is an expert in recombinant adeno-associated virus (rAAV) vectors.

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Dr. Conlon completed his undergraduate degree in genetics at Texas A&M University and his PhD in genetics/biomedical studies at the University of Florida. As the Director of the Powell Gene Therapy Center (PGTC) Toxicology Core and a member of the Pediatrics faculty for 13 years, he facilitated efficient, cost-effective, and rigorous preclinical testing of gene therapy vectors, with a special emphasis on recombinant adeno-associated virus (rAAV) vectors. Dr. Conlon has brought 11 gene therapy trials to the FDA with approval. He has been at the forefront of collaborations between the PGTC, the University of Florida College of Medicine’s Department of Pediatrics, and the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine to identify means for treating congestive heart failure, types of Retinal Degeneration and Glycogen Storage Disease Type IA in humans, as well as two types of cardiac problems experienced in dogs. Dr. Conlon has also served industry sponsors by performing safety studies and regulatory consultations for clinical trial approval. Dr. Conlon was the 2014 recipient of the “See the Lights” award from the The Mathew Forbes Romer Foundation for excellence in the fight against children’s genetic diseases and is a member of the American Society of Gene and Cell Therapy.

Todd A. Alonzo, PhD
Todd A. Alonzo, PhD
University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA
Professor of Research, Department of Preventive Medicine, Keck School of Medicine

Dr. Alonzo’s research interests include development of statistical methods for analysis of biomarkers, medical diagnostic tests, and screening tests, as well as design and analysis of clinical trials.

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Dr. Alonzo completed his undergraduate degree in statistics at California State Polytechnic University, San Luis Obispo and his MS and PhD in biostatistics at the University of Washington. His research interests include development of statistical methods for analysis of biomarkers, medical diagnostic tests, and screening tests, and design and analysis of clinical trials. He has published more than 220 peer-reviewed articles and four book chapters. Dr. Alonzo serves as the Group Statistician for the Children’s Oncology Group (COG), as well as lead statistician for the COG Acute Myelogeneous Leukemia Strategy Group. He was a member of the Editorial Board for Biometrical JournalJournal of Clinical OncologyPediatric Blood & Cancer, and Biometrics and has served as a reviewer for 25 scientific journals. Dr. Alonzo is a Fellow of the American Statistical Association. He currently resides in Glendora, CA with his family and pets (Tahoe, a Labrador Retriever and Titan, a Maine Coon cat).

Janet Baer, DVM
Janet Baer, DVM
Veterinary Consulting Services, PLLC, Island Park, ID
Chief Executive Officer

Dr. Baer has worked in many diverse capacities including as the Director of the laboratory animal program at the California Institute of Technology for 24 years, as an on-call veterinarian for NASA, and as an ad hoc site visitor for the Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care.

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Dr. Baer has more than 25 years of experience in the field of laboratory animal medicine, collaborating with multiple institutions to optimize animal welfare. In her career, she has worked in many diverse capacities including as the Director of the laboratory animal program at the California Institute of Technology for 24 years, as an on-call veterinarian for NASA, and as an ad hoc site visitor for the AAALAC. She completed her MS in Veterinary Medicine and DVM at Washington State University, and is specialty board certified member of the American College of Laboratory Animal Medicine. Dr. Baer is currently the CEO of Veterinary Consulting Services, PLLC, through which she serves as the Attending Veterinarian for a number of academic and biotechnology organizations. She has extensive experience working with organizations to design, build, commission, and operate new and remodeled laboratory animal housing facilities. She has published over 20 peer-reviewed articles on various laboratory animal medicine topics and was the first author of a book, Aotus: The Owl Monkey. She has also been the recipient of three NIH infrastructure grant awards and co-authored a fourth funded award. She is currently an active member of four Institutional Animal Care and Use Committees and three Institutional Biosafety Committees.

David A. Brake, PhD
David A. Brake, PhD
BioQuest Associates, LLC, Stowe, VT
Founder and President

Dr. Brake is a scientific consultant serving the veterinary biologics industry, providing regulatory, technical, and project management expertise to clients in the U.S. government and biotech. He is passionate about One Health and transboundary animal and zoonotic diseases.

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Dr. Brake completed his BS in Biology at Muhlenberg College. After completing a PhD in Microbiology and Immunology at Hahnemann Medical University (now Drexel College of Medicine), he completed a 3-year NIH postdoctoral fellowship at SmithKline Beecham Pharmaceuticals in the field of HIV molecular genetics. He was employed as a research immunologist at SmithKline Beecham Animal Health and at Pfizer Animal Health where he held several scientific and management positions in veterinary biologics R&D.  Dr. Brake subsequently founded the veterinary biologics consulting company, BioQuest Associates, LLC. Dr. Brake currently serves as a scientific consultant to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology, providing technical and project management expertise for several transboundary animal and zoonotic disease countermeasure projects. Dr. Brake also provides USDA consultancy services to clients in the biotechnology and biopharmaceutical industries. He enjoys hiking, kayaking, skiing, and reading, and resides in Stowe, VT with his spouse and vocal cat Chairman Meow.

Graham Cox, PhD
Graham Cox, PhD
Veterinary Vaccine Services, Inc., Omaha, NE
Founder and President

Dr. Cox’s contributions to the veterinary vaccine research field include registering the first GnRH vaccine in the USA, attaining USDA clearance for a behavior-modifying vaccine for poultry, and demonstrating the utility of DNA vaccines in cattle.

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Dr. Graham Cox has been involved in veterinary vaccine research since 1983; first in the small biotech sector and later for pharmaceutical companies: CSL, Pfizer, Schering Plough/Intervet and Merck. Since 2013 he has worked as a consultant in the veterinary vaccine industry specializing in early vaccine research, clinical trials, manufacturing and regulatory affairs. Graham received a B.Sc. in protein chemistry and a Ph.D. in viral immunology from the University of Saskatchewan, Canada. Contributions to vaccine research include registering the first GnRH vaccine in the USA, attaining USDA clearance for a behavior-modifying vaccine for poultry, and demonstrating the utility of DNA vaccines in cattle. He is the author or co-author of over 20 published papers, book chapters and patents.

Carl D. Johnson, PhD
Carl D. Johnson, PhD

Dr. Johnson is an accomplished biochemist, geneticist, and neurobiologist with experience both in biotech and pharmaceutical industries and in medical research foundations.

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Dr. Johnson received his BS in Chemistry from the University of Chicago and a PhD in Biology from the California Institute of Technology. He performed postdoctoral research in Neurochemistry and Neuroanatomy at the University of Wisconsin. In 1986, Dr. Johnson joined Cambridge NeuroScience, Inc. as Director of Genetics. In 1990, he co-founded NemaPharm, Inc., the first company to focus on using a genetically tractable model animal, the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans, for studies designed to identify human therapeutics. Dr. Johnson joined the Hereditary Disease Foundation (HDF) as Executive Director of the ‘Cure Huntington’s Disease Initiative’ in 2001. In 2004, Dr. Johnson became Executive Director for Science of the HDF, managing all aspects of the Foundation’s scientific programs. He retired from that position in 2016. Dr. Johnson consults and reviews grant applications for the Michelson Found Animals Foundation and other groups. He lives in Madison, Wisconsin with wife Susan Curtis, adopted cats Lena and Sammy, and two rescued cattle dogs Tula and Boss.

Kevin N. Morris, PhD
Kevin N. Morris, PhD
Institute for Human-Animal Connection, University of Denver, Denver, CO
Associate Research Professor

Dr. Morris has been actively involved in cancer research in both academic and biotechnology environments for over 20 years.

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Dr. Morris is the American Humane Endowed Chair and a research associate professor in the Institute for Human-Animal Connection at the University of Denver. He holds a PhD in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry from the University of Chicago. After 20 years of preclinical and clinical cancer research, he began focusing his scientific skills on the advancement of animal health and welfare and a better understanding of the impacts of animals on humans through research; first as the Director of Research at the Animal Assistance Foundation and now as a faculty member at the Institute for Human-Animal Connection. He serves as the Principal Investigator on a wide range of studies aimed at measuring the effects of animals in a variety of therapeutic environments and the impacts of companion animals on human and community health. He has served on the Board of Directors of the Alliance for Contraception in Cats and Dogs since 2011.

Linda Rhodes, VMD, PhD
Linda Rhodes, VMD, PhD

Dr. Rhodes has 30 years of accomplishments in human and animal drug discovery, development, biomedical research, and clinical veterinary medicine.

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Dr. Rhodes was educated at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine (VMD) and Cornell University (PhD). She has 30 years of accomplishments in human and animal drug discovery, development, biomedical research, and clinical veterinary medicine. She has an extensive background in physiology, veterinary medicine, and molecular biology. As a senior research fellow at Merck Research Laboratories for 10 years, she led pre-clinical biology evaluation of several marketed human drugs. Dr. Rhodes practiced clinical veterinary medicine for five years, with experience in both companion and farm animal practice. She worked for Merial Ltd. as director of development projects, leading project teams developing novel compounds for a variety of indications and headed new technology assessment, leading the evaluation of licensing opportunities. In April 2001, she formed AlcheraBio, a consulting, marketing, communications, and contract research firm specializing in developing new drugs for animals, working with biotechnology and animal health companies, with clients in the US, European Union, Canada, and Australia. AlcheraBio was acquired in 2008 by Argenta, and in 2011, Dr. Rhodes accepted a position as CEO of Aratana Therapeutics, a venture capital backed start-up company developing innovative new medicines for dogs and cats, and subsequently, when the company became public (PETX) served as its Chief Scientific Officer.

Linda is currently retired and an independent consultant. She is a member of the Board of Directors of Dalan Animal Health, Zoetis, and the Alliance for Contraception in Cats and Dogs, and she serves as an adjunct faculty member in the Graduate School of Endocrinology and Animal Biosciences at Rutgers University. Dr. Rhodes was honored in 2019 by receiving the Iron Paw Award, the Animal Health Corridor’s award for achievement in the animal health industry.

Amy A. Ross, PhD
Amy A. Ross, PhD
University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA
Trustee

Dr. Ross received her PhD in Experimental Pathology and has more than 25 years of experience in the bone marrow transplantation/cancer diagnostic field.

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Amy received her Ph.D. in Experimental Pathology from USC in 1986.  She worked in biotechnology and the bone marrow transplantation/cancer diagnostics field for over 25 years. Her research focused on the detection of low numbers of tumor cells in the circulation of breast cancer patients as a means of targeting early relapse. She is the author of over 75 scientific publications and the holder of three U.S. patents.  Although most of Amy’s career was in the biotechnology industry, she spent three years developing a tissue culture system for bone marrow-derived stem cells in the laboratory of Dr. Ellen Rothenberg at Caltech.  An active USC alumna, Amy was a co-founder of the USC LGBT Alumni Association and is currently a member of the USC Board of Trustees.  She also serves on the USC Verdugo Hills Hospital Foundation Board.

Donald Schwartz
Donald Schwartz
Elders-Rede, LLC, Animal Health Advisors, Duluth, GA
Managing Director

Mr. Schwartz has extensive experience in contract negotiation, legal affairs, marketing, product management, and product development, among other business skills.

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Don Schwartz started his career as a freelance science writer and then joined Merck & Co., Inc., one of his clients, as a manager of global marketing communications. He went on to serve as Executive Director of US Business Operations for Merial Inc., a successor company owned by Sanofi, where he had direct responsibility for business development, strategic initiatives, customer care, veterinary technical solutions, regulatory, and business analytics. He is currently the Managing Director of Elders-Rede, LLC, Animal Health Advisors. Don has extensive experience in contract negotiation, legal affairs, marketing, product management, and product development, among other business skills. During his time at Merial Inc. he was instrumental in the launch of virtually all of the company’s landmark products including IVOMEC, HEARTGARD, and FRONTLINE PLUS. Don earned an undergraduate degree (English and Biology) from Union College in Schenectady, NY, did graduate work in biology (CUNY), and then went to law school. However, he is quick to point out that he is not licensed and therefore is not a lawyer.

William F. Swanson, DVM, PhD
William F. Swanson, DVM, PhD
Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden, Cincinnati, OH
Director, Animal Research, Center for Conservation and Research of Endangered Wildlife

Dr. Swanson currently leads a multi-disciplinary research team at the Cincinnati Zoo with a primary focus on maternal and embryonic factors affecting reproductive success in small felids.

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Dr. Swanson was educated at the University of Texas, Austin (BS), Texas A&M University (DVM), and Louisiana State University (PhD, Animal Science). He currently leads a multi-disciplinary research team at the Cincinnati Zoo on the preservation of endangered animal species, with a primary focus on maternal and embryonic factors affecting reproductive success in felids. He participates in collaborative studies of endangered small felids in Mongolia, Thailand, South Africa, the UAE, and Brazil, and he trains foreign scientists in conservation strategies. He was Co-Chair of the Felid Taxon Advisory Group of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums for ten years and has published and spoken widely on reproductive physiology of endangered and domestic felids. Before joining the Cincinnati Zoo, Dr. Swanson completed a postdoctoral fellowship in reproductive physiology of domestic and nondomestic felids, and worked as a gamete biologist at the Conservation & Research Center, Smithsonian National Zoological Park, in Front Royal, VA. He received a five-year Special Emphasis Research Career Award from the National Center for Research Resources of the NIH. Work at the Smithsonian included examination of maternal and embryonic factors affecting reproductive success in felids. Specific studies were directed toward the application of in vitro fertilization and embryo transfer for propagation of felid models of human disease and for conservation of endangered cat species.

Marcel van Duin, PhD
Marcel van Duin, PhD
Ferring Research Institute, San Diego, CA
VP, Head of R&D Alliances, Reproductive Medicine & Maternal Health

Dr. Marcel van Duin has more than 25 years of R&D experience in the pharma industry.

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Marcel van Duin received his PhD from the Erasmus University in Rotterdam after which he started his scientific career in pharmaceutical research at Organon in Oss, The Netherlands, where he worked on immunological approaches to fertility control as well as the discovery of novel targets for the development of new methods for female and male fertility control. In 2001, he moved to Organon Research in Newhouse, Scotland, to become the Head of Target Discovery in cardiovascular and neuroscience therapeutic programs. In early 2003, he returned to the Netherlands to accept the position of Head of Pharmacology at Organon. In this position, he was responsible for all pharmacological research in the areas of reproductive biology, oncology, and immunology, the in vitro ADME and early toxicology group, as well as the animal research facilities. Following Organon’s acquisition by Schering-Plough in 2007, he joined the Research Leadership Team of Schering-Plough as VP and Therapeutic Area Head Women’s Health. In Oss, the Netherlands, he became the head of the Women’s Health department with research programs in male and female contraception, infertility, endometriosis, and menopausal symptoms. Following the merger with Merck in 2009, he was appointed as VP and Worldwide Discovery Head for the Women’s Health and Endocrine franchise with responsibility for the global discovery activities in this therapeutic area.

In 2012 he joined Ferring Pharmaceuticals. At the Ferring Research Institute in San Diego he is now VP and Therapeutic Area Head for Research in Reproductive Medicine & Women’s Health.

Joanne Zahorsky-Reeves, DVM, PhD
Joanne Zahorsky-Reeves, DVM, PhD
University of California, Los Angeles, CA
Regulatory Affairs Program Administrator, Division of Laboratory Animal Medicine, David Geffen School of Medicine

Dr. Zahorsky-Reeves worked in xenotransplantation genetics at USC and Childrens Hospital LA, and now is a laboratory animal veterinarian at UCLA.

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Dr. Zahorsky-Reeves attended Cornell University both undergraduate (BS with Honors ‘90) and veterinary school (’95). She completed her PhD in Comparative and Experimental Medicine at the University of Tennessee School of Veterinary Medicine, Knoxville (’99). She worked as a post-doc in xenotransplantation genetics at the University of Southern California and Childrens Hospital Los Angeles (’99-’04). Dr. Zahorsky-Reeves now serves as the laboratory animal veterinarian in the Division of Laboratory Animal Medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine, UCLA, and is board certified in lab animal medicine (DACLAM) (’11).

Brett Yates
Brett Yates
Michelson Found Animals Foundation, Los Angeles, CA
Chief Executive Officer and Ex Officio Member

In addition to his responsibilities as CEO of Michelson Found Animals, Yates also serves in the dual role of chief operations officer and chief financial officer for Michelson Philanthropies, the network of foundations established by Alya and Dr. Gary K. Michelson to drive positive change in animal welfare, education, and medical research.

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Prior to stepping into his role as Chief Executive Officer of Michelson Found Animals Foundation, Brett served as MFA’s Chief Operating Officer for over two years.  To this work, Yates brings decades of experience with finance, nonprofit, and startup organizations. Since joining Found Animals, he has combined his passion for helping animals with expertise in strategic investments and program development. Among other projects, Yates spearheaded pioneering Found Animals initiatives such as Leap Venture Studios, the first program built to springboard innovation in the growing pet products and services industry through equity investments in for-profit startups; the Better Neighbor Project, which partners with human service organizations to develop programs that support homeless and other under-served communities and their pets; and the Pet-Inclusive Housing Initiative, which was created to field research that demonstrates the benefits of pet-friendly housing to owner/operators, residents, and communities.

Before joining the MFA executive team, Yates held progressively senior roles for companies such as First American, Fiserv, and Janus Mutual Funds. He is also an entrepreneur who has consulted for multiple startup organizations. Originally from Brea,CA, Yates holds a degree in finance from the University of Denver.