Michelson Prizes

Supporting the next generation of innovators in human immunology


We invest in disruptive, innovative, and high-impact ideas.

The Michelson Prizes in Human Immunology are 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.

They are supported by the Michelson Philanthropies and include two funding opportunities:

  • The Michelson Prizes: Next Generation Grants: $150,000 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 2021 Michelson Prizes: Next Generation Grants are looking for research proposals in two areas: 1) Human Immunology and Vaccine Research and 2) Climate Change and Human Immunology. Our committee is currently reviewing all applications. The winners will be announced in December 2021.
  • The Michelson Philanthropies & Science Prize for Immunology: A $30.000 award in collaboration with AAAS/Science for recent research that will have a significant impact on vaccine and immunotherapy development. Apply today!

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

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Across Sectors, Across Diseases

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
  • Molecular Biology
  • Computer science
  • Biophysics
  • Bioengineering
  • Environmental Health
  • Biochemistry
  • Protein Engineering
  • AI/Machine Learning
  • Nanotechnology
  • Microbiome
  • Vector Biology

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

Eligibility and Selection Process

Information for applicants

The application portal for the 2021 Michelson Prizes: Next Generation Grants closed on June 18, 2021.

Applicants must be 35 or younger at the time of 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.


Review our applicant FAQ below, download complete information about the prizes, or contact us at michelsonprizes@humanvaccinesproject.org.

No. Applicants born before June 18, 1985 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 and institution address in the pre-application form fields.

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 with your institution post-award, the prize money must be used for the conduct of the specific research project for which it was awarded.

Yes. However, the total amount that can be allocated for salaries is 40% of the total budget. For example, if your total project budget is $150,000 (the maximum), then amount allowed for all salaries within your $150,000 budget cannot be more than $60,000.

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. On the pre-application form, under ‘Conflicts of Interest,’ you will be asked to enter the names and institutional affiliations of all individuals who may be associated with your project, i.e., mentors, collaborators, consultants, etc.

The Human Vaccines Project does not pay indirect costs on the Michelson Prizes.

No. All initial 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.

We do not accept full applications for projects that differ significantly from what was proposed in the pre-application. This is because all pre-applications undergo a thorough vetting and review process and are chosen for their content, innovation, and potential for trans-disease impact by a panel of scientists with high expertise. Since only a select number of pre-applications are chosen for full application submission, it is highly disadvantageous to change the focus of your full application in any significant way.

Yes. However, please not that the Michelson Philanthropies & Science Prize for Immunology is awarded for completed research and the Next Generation Grants are for proposed research.

Michelson Prize Winners

Michael Birnbaum


Danika Hill


Kamal Mandal


Murad Mamedov


Avinash Das Sahu


Laura Mackay


Ansuman Satpathy
M.D., Ph.D.