2013: A Year in Review for the Michelson Prize & Grants

As 2013 draws to a close, we at the Michelson Prize & Grants in Reproductive Biology would like to share with you the exciting accomplishments of our program and our grantees over the past year in our shared quest to develop a nonsurgical sterilant for cats and dogs.

Since January we have received a grand total of 75 letters of intent and 22 grant proposals from investigators at academic research institutions and biotechnology firms around the world. Nine proposals totaling nearly $4 million were approved for funding which means that, to date, we have committed just over $14 million to a total of 32 projects worldwide. Read more about current Michelson Grantees on our Current Grantee Profiles page.

Michelson Grant funded projects from R. John Aitken, ScD, FRSE at the University of Newcastle, Larry Chamley, PhD at the University of Auckland, William Ja, PhD at Scripps Research Institute, Megan Lloyd, PhD at the University of Western Australia, and Ralph Meyer, PhD at Utah State University completed in 2013. Visit our Research Findings page to learn more about the important discoveries that these and other Michelson Grantees have made in their efforts to develop a nonsurgical method for spaying and neutering companion animals.

In October we held a meeting of a subset of Michelson Grantees to discuss kisspeptin and its potential role in the development of a nonsurgical sterilant for cats and dogs. Dr. Robert Steiner, a kisspeptin expert at the University of Washington, gave an informative keynote address to attendees, who included Dr. Gary Michelson, 9 investigators working on 5 Michelson Grant funded projects, members of our Scientific Advisory Board, and Found Animals and Michelson Prize & Grants staff. Grantees in attendance shared their research approaches and findings and engaged in an exciting group discussion on how to take us closer to our goal of a Michelson Prize-worthy product.

This year we welcomed 5 new members to our Scientific Advisory Board: Janet Baer, DVM, Gary Richwald, MD, MPH, Josep Rutllant, DVM, PhD, William Swanson, DVM, PhD, and Joanne Zahorsky-Reeves, DVM, PhD. We are excited about the expertise and insight that each of these new advisors brings to our program and are looking forward to working with them in the new year.

Michelson Prize & Grants program staff participated in 11 conferences in 2013 including annual meetings of the Endocrine Society, the Society for the Study of Reproduction, and the Society for Neuroscience. Sponsorship of exhibit booths at scientific meetings enables us to meet face to face with potential grant applicants and allows us to spread the word about our international research grants and prize philanthropy model to a large group of researchers involved in relevant work.

We are constantly encouraged by and thankful for the exciting progress that is made every day by our grantees, and are looking forward to another busy year of participating in scientific meetings, hosting our second meeting of all Michelson grantees in May, and launching our new website in February.

We wish you all a happy, healthy, and productive 2014!

New Advisors on Board for MPG

Two new leading experts, Dr. Josep Rutllant and Dr. Joanne Zahorsky-Reeves, have been appointed to the Michelson Prize & Grants Scientific Advisory Board.

Josep Rutllant, DVM, PhD is a professor of anatomy and embryology in the College of Veterinary Medicine at Western University of Health Sciences. Dr. Rutllant has many years of experience in general areas of sperm cell biology and function, including isolation of spermatogonial stem cells and Sertoli cells from dogs, and patterns of MHC protein expression during porcine spermatogenesis.

Joanne Zahorsky-Reeves, DVM, PhD is the Regulatory Affairs Program Administrator in the Division of Laboratory Animal Medicine at University of California, Los Angeles, also serving as a board certified laboratory animal veterinarian. Dr. Zahorsky-Reeves completed her PhD in comparative and experimental medicine and focused her postdoctoral research on xenotransplantation genetics.

Our Board advisors provide invaluable insight, individually by applying their specific areas of expertise when reviewing letters of intent and grant proposals, and collectively by fostering exciting ideas on how to bring the MPG program closer to the goal of a single-dose nonsurgical sterilant.

We welcome Dr. Rutllant and Dr. Zahorsky-Reeves in joining us to solve this global challenge!

To read more about our Scientific Advisory Board members, please visit the Board Bios page.

Three New Grantees Announced

We are pleased to announce that the Michelson Prize & Grants in Reproductive Biology has three new projects that are recently underway!

Dr. George Bentley, an Associate Professor of Integrative Biology at the University of California, Berkeley, has been awarded a two-year grant totaling $249,999 for his project titled, “Over-Expression of the Novel RFamide Gonadotropin-Inhibitory Hormone: Proof of Concept Study in Rats.”

Dr. Jonathan LaMarre, a Professor in the Department of Biomedical Sciences at the University of Guelph, will receive a two-year grant totaling $260,310 for his study titled, “Targeting piRNA/Endo-siRNA Pathways for the Control of Companion Animal Fertility.”

Finally, Dr. David Putnam, an Associate Professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Cornell University, has been awarded a two-year grant totaling $352,365 for his proposal titled, “Self-boosting pathogen-like particle multi-antigen vaccine for female immunosterilization.”

We very are excited about the promise that these new projects hold for taking us closer to our goal of developing a single-dose, nonsurgical sterilant for cats and dogs. For more information about these and other current Michelson grantees, visit our Current Grantee Profiles and Research Findings pages.

Dr. Gary Michelson, the founder and sole funder of the Found Animals Foundation, has devoted up to $50 million in international grant funding through the Michelson Prize & Grants program. Since awarding our first grant in 2009, we have committed over $12 million to approved projects in nonsurgical sterilization research. We are looking forward to receiving more innovative proposals during our upcoming grant cycles in 2014!