Public Release: 

New Michelson Prizes for Human Immunology and Vaccine Research launch

The Michelson Medical Research Foundation and the Human Vaccines Project announce young investigator prizes to advance the development of future vaccines and therapies to defeat major global diseases

Human Vaccines Project

December 13, 2017, LOS ANGELES and NEW YORK - The Michelson Medical Research Foundation (MMRF) together with the Human Vaccines Project announced today the establishment of the Michelson Prizes for Human Immunology and Vaccine Research. The $20 million initiative, funded by the MMRF and administered by the Human Vaccines Project, aims to support young investigators applying innovative research concepts and disruptive technologies to significantly advance the development of future vaccines and therapies to defeat major global diseases.

A rigorous and competitive global search will be undertaken to identify the most innovative projects by young scientists across a broad spectrum of scientific fields. Two investigators under the age of 35 will each be awarded a $150,000 prize. To be considered, applicants need to show how they are going beyond conventional approaches in their field and clearly articulate how their contribution will make a lasting impact on human immunology and vaccine research.

"The Prizes give young scientists the freedom to think outside-of-the-box and explore disruptive technologies," said Gary Michelson, MD, Founder of the Michelson Medical Research Foundation. "Our collaboration with the Human Vaccines Project in establishing the Michelson Prizes will help unravel the complexity of the human immune system to accelerate development of vaccines and therapies for some of the world's most threatening diseases."

While the Michelson Prizes are focused on research outcomes in the fields of human immunology and vaccinology, early career scientists across a wide array of disciplines, including clinical research, biomedicine, bioengineering, artificial intelligence/machine learning, and nanotechnology, are encouraged to apply. Proposals will be reviewed and winners selected by a distinguished committee of internationally recognized, independent scientists.

"Young, uninhibited, risk-taking scientists are the foundation for future advances in vaccine and therapeutic development," said Nobel Laureate, Peter C. Doherty, PhD, Professor of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Melbourne. "Yet these aspiring researchers often lack the resources to advance high-risk, high-reward ideas. The Michelson Prizes offer an incredible opportunity to identify and support these young scientists as they pursue groundbreaking approaches with the potential to transform the future of public health."

The two prizes will be awarded in June 2018 as part of a scientific conference on the Convergence of Human Immunology and Vaccine Research hosted at The Michelson Center for Convergent Bioscience at the University of Southern California.

"The Michelson Prizes support the missions of both MMRF and the Human Vaccines Project, with the ultimate goal of broadening our understanding of the human immune system to give the scientific community new tools to help prevent and control disease, potentially saving millions of lives across the world," said Wayne Koff, PhD, President and CEO of the Human Vaccines Project. "We are honored to be collaborating with the Michelson Medical Research Foundation to implement the visionary commitment of Gary and Alya Michelson of supporting the next generation of scientific leaders on the frontiers of human immunology and vaccine research."


Visit the Michelson Prizes at to learn how to apply.

About the Michelson Medical Research Foundation

Founded by Dr. Gary K. Michelson, a renowned orthopedic surgeon, inventor, patent holder and philanthropist, Michelson Medical Research Foundation [MMRF] supports forward thinking initiatives in medical science. For more information, visit

About the Human Vaccines Project

The Human Vaccines Project is a nonprofit public-private partnership with a mission to decode the human immune system to accelerate the development of vaccines and immunotherapies against major infectious diseases and cancers. The Project brings together leading academic research centers, industrial partners, nonprofits and governments to address the primary scientific barriers to developing new vaccines and immunotherapies. Support and funding for the Project includes the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Michelson Medical Research Foundation, GSK, MedImmune, Illumina, Sanofi Pasteur, Johnson & Johnson/Janssen, Pfizer, Moderna, Boehringer Ingelheim, Aeras, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, University of California San Diego, The Scripps Research Institute, J. Craig Venter Institute and La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology. To learn more, visit and follow @HumanVacProject on Twitter.

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