Michelson Prize Winners Collaborate on New, $9.5M Emerging Pathogens Project

Young researchers are often at the cutting-edge of scientific discovery, yet they struggle to find funding to support their efforts. The Michelson Prizes: Next Generation Grants are designed to fill this gap and reward young scientists pursuing innovative research to advance human immunology, vaccine discovery, and immunotherapy for global diseases.

The grants, a partnership between the Michelson Medical Research Foundation and the Human Immunome Project, seek to expand our limited understanding of the human immunome to change how we address disease and improve global health. For Michelson Prize winners, they also serve as a career accelerant, raising the profile of individual scientists and opening the doors to new opportunities to expand on their research. And the impact can be profound.

Dr. Nicholas Wu received a 2021 Michelson Prize for his work to develop a high-throughput platform for screening antibody-antigen interactions with the goal to facilitate the development of next-generation vaccines. Since receiving the Michelson Prize he has been awarded the Searle Scholar Award (2022), the ASV Ann Palmenberg Junior Investigator Award (2022), and the Viruses Early Career Investigator Award (2022). Most recently, Dr. Wu is among a group of five investigators that received a $9.5 million award to study emerging pathogens and better understand influenza-antibody interactions.

Joining him in this endeavor is Dr. Jenna Guthmiller, a 2022 Michelson Prize recipient. Dr. Guthmiller was awarded the prize for her work to provide a framework of B cell specificities in the respiratory tract to improve mucosal vaccine design and ultimately lead to a universal influenza vaccine. Dr. Guthmiller runs the Guthmiller Laboratory, located within the Department of Immunology and Microbiology at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, which studies humoral immunity and influenza viruses.

Dr. Wu’s and Dr. Guthmiller’s project, “Investigating and Engineering the Avian and Human Antibody Response to Target Emerging Influenza Viruses,” is one of 13 in the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s new Emerging Pathogens Initiative—a $100 million commitment to support basic research targeted at preparedness for emerging pathogens that could threaten human health. The project will consider why ducks and other aquatic birds can carry influenza viruses but rarely become severely ill, and how this may be applicable to human populations with the goal of informing biologics development, diagnostics, and vaccine design.

As Dr. Wu and Dr. Guthmiller demonstrate, winning the Michelson Prizes: Next Generation Grants are a career stepping stone for young researchers looking to transform immunology and human health. Indeed, the investment in young researchers benefits all.

Are you the next Michelson Prize winner? 2023 applications are open now through June 11, 2023. All investigators 35 and younger, including post-docs, clinical fellows, residents, interns, and other researchers in training, are eligible to apply.

We encourage submissions from international applicants and scientists across disciplines, including clinical research, biochemistry, molecular biology, protein engineering, computer science, artificial intelligence/machine learning, biophysics, nanotechnology, and more.

Submit your two-page research proposal here by June 11.

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