Michelson Prizes


Prize winners are the next-generation of innovators in human immunology and vaccine research.


The Michelson Prizes: Next Generation Grants are $150,000 research grants given annually to support promising researchers who are applying disruptive concepts and inventive processes to advance human immunology, vaccine discovery and immunotherapy research for major global diseases.

Click here to submit your application for the 2021 Michelson Prizes

The deadline for the applications is June 18, 2021. 

To begin your application, you’ll need to register for a SurveyMonkeyApply account. Please click the link below for more information. Once you have registered, please save your login information; you will be able to save your application and edit it until you press the “Submit” button. 

 The 2021 Michelson Prizes will be looking for research proposals in two areas:

  • Human Immunology and Vaccine Research: The committee will be looking for research aimed at tackling the current roadblocks that exist in human vaccine development and expanding our limited understanding of key immune processes that are fundamental to successful vaccine and immunotherapy development.
  • Climate Change and Human Immunology: Climate change has a profound effect on human health; pollution and other environmental stressors related to climate change increase susceptibility to disease, especially in vulnerable populations. Harnessing the immune system will be critical to  mitigate negative health impacts. The committee is looking for research that expands our understanding of the potential effects of climate change on immune function with a particular interest in research that will directly translate into vaccine and immunotherapy development to mitigate its impact.

For both prizes, the committee will be looking for research that is highly innovative and impactful, with the potential to be applied across many diseases. 

While the Michelson Prizes are focused on research in the fields of immunology, vaccine and immunotherapy discovery, applicants from the full spectrum of related disciplines, including clinical research, biochemistry, molecular biology, protein engineering, computer science, artificial intelligence/machine learning, biophysics, nanotechnology, environmental health, etc., are encouraged to apply.

Michelson Prize Winners

2020 WINNER

Michael Birnbaum, Ph.D.

Department of Medical Engineering, MIT
2020 WINNER

Danika Hill, Ph.D.

Monash University Australia, Melbourne
2019 WINNER

Kamal Mandal, Ph.D.

University of California, San Francisco
2019 WINNER

Murad Mamedov, Ph.D.

University of California, San Francisco
2019 WINNER

Avinash Das Sahu, Ph.D.

Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
2018 WINNER

Laura Mackay, Ph.D.

The Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity
2018 WINNER

Ansuman Satpathy, M.D., Ph.D.

Stanford University School of Medicine
2018 WINNER

Patricia Therese Illing, Ph.D.

Monash University

A rigorous and competitive international search will identify the most innovative projects from young scientists working across a broad range of scientific fields. Proposals will be reviewed by a distinguished committee of internationally-recognized scientists. The review committee will be looking for research that challenges dogma, from researchers who clearly articulate a vision that demonstrates an ability to look beyond convention to make a lasting impact on vaccine and immunotherapy research. We encourage applications from the full spectrum of scientific disciplines related to immunology, vaccine, and immunotherapy research, including but not limited to:

Clinical Research

Biochemistry

Molecular Biology

Protein engineering

Computer science

AI/Machine Learning

Biophysics

Nanotechnology

Bioengineering

Microbiome

Environmental Health

Vector Biology

Register to be emailed when the application portal opens:

Michelson Prize Register

The Michelson Prize was instrumental in my early career. It allowed me to pursue high-risk, high-impact ideas, which would not have been possible without the funding and scientific collaborations developed through the Human Vaccines Project.

Ansuman Satpathy, M.D., Ph.D., Stanford University

Michelson Prize 2019 Galleries

Photos – UCLA Symposium on the Future of Vaccine Discovery

Michelson Prize Winners Video Gallery

Eligibility and Selection Process


Information for applicants

Applications for the 2021 Michelson Prizes will be accepted from April 1, 2021 -- June 18, 2021.

Applicants must be 35 or younger at the time of pre-application submission. Early career independent investigators, postdoctoral fellows, clinical fellows (including residents and interns), and other researchers currently in training positions are eligible for these awards. Eligible applicants must be employed by, or affiliated with, an eligible organization. Examples of eligible organizations include academia, biotechnology companies, foundations, government and non-governmental organizations, and research institutes.

Questions? Contact michelsonprizes@humanvaccinesproject.org.

No. Applicants born before June 18th, 1985 are not eligible to apply.
No. Doctoral students, postdoctoral fellows, clinical fellows, and others in training or non-tenure track positions are eligible to apply, provided they meet the age requirement.
Yes. Scientists in the early stages of their career often switch institutions. We will work with you and your institution to facilitate changes should that be necessary.
Use your current institution in the application form fields (name and address), but describe the research environment and facilities available to you at your new institution within the ‘Capabilities’ section of the form.  Also, on the biographical sketch form, clearly indicate your new institution, department, position title, and position start date.
Awards are made to scientists via their institution of affiliation similar to most grant awards via a standard legal agreement. The Prize money must be used for the conduct of the specific research project for which it was awarded.
Yes. There is no limit on how much of the award money can be used for salary purposes.
Michelson Prizes will be awarded to individual investigators to support the proposed project. The applicant is expected to assemble a research team that will provide the necessary expertise to accomplish the research goals proposed in the application; co-investigators and collaborators should be listed in the 'Capabilities' section of the application form.
$150,000 is the full amount of the award. Per our standard grant policy we do not pay indirect costs.
No. All applications for the Michelson Prizes must be submitted electronically by the application deadline. Paper applications will not be accepted.
No.  Once your application is submitted, it cannot be changed.
The Michelson Prizes & Grants in Human Immunology are supported by the Michelson Philanthropies and include two distinct funding opportunities. The Michelson Prizes Next Generation Grants: $150K research grants to support disruptive concepts and inventive processes with the potential to significantly advance the development of vaccines and immunotherapies for major global diseases. The Michelson Philanthropies & Science Prize for Immunology: A $25K award for recent research that will have a significant  impact on vaccine and immunotherapy development. Note, the Michelson Found Animals Foundation (www.foundanimals.org) supports the Michelson Prize & Grants in Reproductive Biology, which incentivize research to rapidly develop a permanent, single-dose, nonsurgical sterilant for male and female cats and dogs.
Yes. However, please note that the Michelson Philanthropies & Science Prize for Immunology is awarded for completed research and the Next Generation Grants are for proposed research.

About the Donors

Dr. Gary K. Michelson is a Board Certified Orthopedic Spinal Surgeon, with more than 900 issued patents worldwide.  His work has revolutionized the practice of spinal surgery, making such procedures less invasive, less traumatic, safer, faster, and more effective. Alya Michelson is an accomplished journalist, who has written in, and been published in four different languages.

The Michelson Philanthropies includes three foundations that the Michelsons founded and fund; the Michelson Medical Research Foundation, 20MM, and Michelson Found Animals.

The Michelson Prizes & Grants in Human Immunology are supported by the Michelson Philanthropies and include two funding opportunities:

    • The Michelson Prizes: Next Generation Grants (see above):  150K research grants to support disruptive concepts and inventive processes with the potential to significantly advance the development of vaccines and immunotherapies for major global diseases. Applications open April 1, 2021.
    • The Michelson Philanthropies & Science Prize for Immunology: A 25K award for recent research that will have a significant  impact on vaccine and immunotherapy development. Applications open soon.

The Michelson Prizes & Grants in Human Immunology recognize young scientists pursuing innovative research and connect them with other innovators in immunology through the Michelson Prizes alumni network and the extensive partner network of the Human Vaccines Project and AAAS/Science.