2015: A Year in Review for the Michelson Prize & Grants

2015 proved to be another exciting and productive year for the Michelson Prize & Grants program! As of December, we have received an astounding 345 letters of intent and 127 grant proposals since our program’s creation in October 2008. To date, we have approved 35 proposals for funding and have committed nearly $15 million to those projects.

Michelson Grant Projects

2015 marked the beginning of three new Michelson Grant-funded projects:

  • Single treatment with AAV9 Mullerian Inhibiting Substance as an ideal permanent contraceptive; PI Patricia Donahoe, MD at Massachusetts General Hospital
  • Electrospun delivery to enhance the effectiveness of anti-fertility strategies; PI John Lannutti, PhD at The Ohio State University
  • Enhancing the toxicity of GnRH- and bivalent-targeted RIP conjugates to induce sterility; PI Benjamin Renquist, PhD at the University of Arizona

The following multi-year Michelson Grant projects were completed in 2015:

  • Inducing stable infertility by RNA interference; PI Beverly L. Davidson, PhD at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
  • Ablation of hypothalamic GnRH neurons using targeted, cytotoxic exosomes: proof of concept study in mice; PI Colin E. Bishop, PhD at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center
  • Development of targeted nanoparticles as non-surgical sterilizing agents: proof of concept study in mice, PI George L. Gerton, PhD at the Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania

This year our grantees’ research findings were published in such esteemed journals as Andrology, the Journal of Biotechnology, Molecular Reproduction and Development, and Theriogenology, and several grantees presented their work at conferences and universities in Argentina, Canada, New Zealand, Spain, and the United Kingdom. For a full report on all Michelson Grant research findings to date, check out our recent blog here or view our full Research Findings listing here.

Scientific Advisory Board Meetings

The Michelson Prize & Grants program held three Scientific Advisory Board meetings, at which the board voted to approve two new projects for funding. The details of these grants will be posted on our website in the new year.

In October we had the honor of holding a board meeting at White Oak Conservation in Yulee, Florida. A former rice and tree plantation, White Oak is now one of the world’s premiere wildlife breeding, education, and training facilities. It was acquired by the Gilman family in 1938 and, in 1982, philanthropist Howard Gilman started a conservation program on the property for the purpose of housing and breeding vulnerable, threatened, and endangered species. Today, the 12,000-acre property in northeastern Florida houses over 30 species as part of their conservation breeding programs. During our visit the board was treated to a 3-hour tour and met a 6-week-old White Rhino, a pair of hand-raised cheetah sisters, and a double-wattled cassowary, to name just a few of the amazing animals on the property.

Conferences & Networking

MPG staff were also quite busy in 2015 with a robust conference schedule. This year the MPG program sponsored exhibit booths at annual meetings of the Endocrine Society, Experimental Biology, Society for Biomaterials, Society for Theriogenology, and Society of Toxicology. Conference exhibit sponsorships are an important part of our outreach strategy, as they give us the opportunity to meet face to face with top researchers in relevant fields who are capable of contributing to our mission of creating the first nonsurgical sterilant for dogs and cats. The relationships forged in these environments not only lead to new grant projects, but they have also helped us to expand and strengthen the membership of our Scientific Advisory Board.

We are indebted to Dr. Gary K. Michelson and his wife Alya Michelson for their generosity in funding the Michelson Prize & Grants program in its entirety as well as for their vision of a world in which the euthanasia of healthy, adoptable cats and dogs is far behind us.

From all of us at the MPG program and the Found Animals Foundation, we hope that you have a joyous holiday season and a happy New Year!