Announcing the 2019 Michelson Prize Winners

Michelson Prizes

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

About the Michelson Prizes

We support disruptive, innovative, and high-impact ideas.

The Michelson Prizes are scientific awards of $150,000 given annually to young investigators who are applying disruptive concepts and inventive processes to advance human immunology, vaccine discovery, and immunotherapy research across major global diseases.

Applications have closed for the 2019 cycle.

We will begin accepting applications for the 2020 Michelson Prizes on September 9, 2019.

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

The 2020 Michelson Prizes will focus on advances in human immunology to accelerate the development of more effective vaccines and immunotherapies.

We will be looking for high-impact and highly innovative research that has the potential to be applied across many diseases and to significantly expand our understanding of the human immune system. We want to see applications from the full spectrum of disciplines related to immunology and vaccine and immunotherapy discovery, including but not limited to:

Clinical Research


Molecular Biology

Protein engineering

Computer science

AI/Machine Learning





Register to be emailed when the application portal opens:

Michelson Prize Register

Michelson Prize Winners


Kamal Mandal, Ph.D.

University of California, San Francisco

Murad Mamedov, Ph.D.

University of California, San Francisco

Avinash Das Sahu, Ph.D.

Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

Laura Mackay, Ph.D.

The Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity

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

Stanford University School of Medicine

Patricia Therese Illing, Ph.D.

Monash University

Eligibility and Selection Process

Information for applicants

Applications for the 2020 Michelson Prizes will open September 9, 2019. The 2020 Michelson Prizes are open to early-career researchers under 35 at the time of application, and will focus on human immunology, vaccine discovery and immunotherapy research.


Review our applicant FAQ below, download complete information about the prizes, or contact us at

No. Applicants born before October 31, 1984 are not eligible to apply for this year’s award.
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. The Michelson Prizes are awarded to individuals, not institutions, and are intended to accompany the awardee if they move to another institution. However, during the period of the award, you must remain associated with a research institution where the goals of the funded project can still be achieved.
Use your current institution in the pre-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 of this type are most often given to the research institution for direct distribution to the awardee. While the disbursement mechanism for the Prizes may be negotiated post-award, 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 pre-application; co-investigators and collaborators should be listed in the 'Capabilities' section of the pre-application form.
Yes. $150,000 is the full amount of the award and includes both direct and indirect costs associated with the conduct of the project. Note, there will be a percentage cap (to be determined) for the allowable indirect costs to be paid to an awardee’s institution.
No. All pre-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.

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. Together they support a broad array of philanthropic endeavors and operate three foundations that they founded and fund; including a medical research foundation, an education foundation, and an animal welfare foundation. Further information is available at, and