2018: A Year in Review for the Michelson Prize & Grants Program

As we look forward to a new year, we on the Michelson Prize & Grants program team would like to share some highlights from our 2018.

An important milestone was reached in 2018: On October 16th, the Michelson Prize & Grants celebrated its 10th anniversary as a program of The Michelson Found Animals Foundation. Over the past 10 years, the MPG program has committed a total of $15.8 million to 37 Michelson Grant projects around the world, representing an incredible investment in the future of spay/neuter and companion animal welfare.

2018 was also an important year for our friends at the Alliance for Contraception in Cats & Dogs, which hosted its 6th International Symposium on Non-Surgical Methods of Pet Population Control in July. This 2.5-day meeting, which brought together 150 delegates from 13 countries, focused on contraceptive science as well as field science and implementation of nonsurgical sterilants. Several Michelson Grantees, as well as staff and scientific advisors of the Michelson Prize & Grants program, attended and presented their work at this important meeting. All abstracts, posters, and presentation videos are accessible on the ACC&D website for free. Many thanks to ACC&D for hosting such an informative meeting and for providing these resources at no cost on their website!

Our grantee teams have also continued to publish important findings for the research community. In 2018, Michelson Grant-funded work by Drs. Cristina Gobello, Doug Jones, Jonathan LaMarre, and Tatiana Samoylova were published in Theriogenology, Vaccine (twice!), Reproduction, and Molecular Biotechnology, respectively. Michelson Grantees have been published a total of 24 times over the past 10 years in highly-regarded peer-reviewed journals, significantly contributing to the current knowledge on canine and feline reproduction.

Looking ahead, we are excited to see what is in store for our three active Michelson Grant projects. Drs. Patricia Donahoe and David Pepin, based at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, are continuing their work to develop a gene transfer-based injection expressing Mullerian Inhibiting Substance to induce sterility in cats by blocking follicle recruitment. Dr. Lee Smith, with dual appointments at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland and the University of Newcastle in Australia, is working to refine microRNA technology to inhibit expression of the androgen receptor protein in cats and dogs. Finally, Dr. David Baker and his team at the Institute for Protein Design at the University of Washington in Seattle are seeking to computationally design mini-proteins that will bind to gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH), thereby preventing the hormone from binding to its receptor and potentially disrupting the HPG axis and causing infertility. Each of these projects holds an immense amount of promise, and we are looking forward to learning more about their potential in the months to come.

We are also pleased to share that C-Suite Quarterly named Dr. Gary K. Michelson, the founder and generous funder of the Michelson Found Animals Foundation, their LA Visionary of the Year in Philanthropy, Art, & Culture. The Michelson Prize & Grants team is ever grateful for the generosity of Dr. Michelson and his wife Alya Michelson for funding the Michelson Prize & Grants program in its entirety.

From all of us on Team MPG, we wish you a happy, healthy, and safe new year!