Los Angeles/New York City — The Michelson Medical Research Foundation and the Human Immunome Project award Dr. Noam Auslander, Dr. Jenna Guthmiller, Mr. Romain Guyon, and Dr. Brittany Hartwell with the Michelson Prizes: Next Generation Grants.
The $150,000 Michelson Prizes are awarded annually to support early-career investigators working to advance human immunology, vaccine discovery, and immunotherapy research for major global diseases.
The four recipients were selected by a distinguished committee of internationally recognized scientists and represent the next generation of innovators in human immunology and vaccine research. Their proposals were chosen based on their innovation and potential impact, which aim to significantly accelerate scientific discoveries for global health challenges. Each recipient will receive $150,000 to conduct vital research in human immunology and vaccine development.
“It is beyond difficult for young scientists to get funding to conduct their own research and to pursue out-of-the-box, potentially high-risk, high-reward ideas that will disrupt the status quo. The Michelson Prizes are changing this dynamic,” says Dr. Gary K. Michelson, founder and co-chair of Michelson Philanthropies and the Michelson Medical Research Foundation. “When we empower brilliant minds and invest in bold, creative research, it is with the belief that a single breakthrough discovery could improve the lives of billions.”
The Michelson Prizes were established in 2017 and has since grown into a widely sought honor, attracting researchers from all over the world.
“It is inspiring to see so many young scientists with passion for innovation and courage to think out-of-the-box,” says Dr. Wayne Koff, president and CEO of the Human Immunome Project. “I look forward to seeing how their research contributes to our understanding of the human immune system – and helps further our mission to develop the first AI model of the human immunome, transforming the way we diagnose, treat, and prevent diseases for everyone.”
Dr. Auslander, Dr. Guthmiller, Mr. Guyon, and Dr. Hartwell will be honored at a virtual award ceremony in collaboration with Keystone Symposia on March 24, 2023, at 8:00 AM PST.
Applications for the 2023 Michelson Prizes: Next Generation Grants will open on April 3, 2023.
Noam Auslander, Ph.D.
“Artificial intelligence-based identification of microbes associated immune responses in cancer and immune diseases.”
Dr. Auslander is developing an artificial intelligence-based approach to efficiently detect microbial expression in cancer and immune diseases. Her approach outperforms existing strategies and allows the detection of new microbes in human disease tissues, whose expression correlate with patients’ immune responses and disease outcomes. Dr. Auslander’s successful proposal offers a new technique to study the role of microbes in disease immune responses and to ultimately improve both vaccine and immunotherapy development.
Jenna Guthmiller, Ph.D.
“Mapping preexisting mucosal B cell specificities engaged by potential universal influenza vaccines.”
Universal influenza vaccines have the potential to provide broad protection against circulating and emerging influenza viruses. However, the preexisting B cell repertoires that can be stimulated by these vaccines at the site of infection remain uncharted. Dr. Guthmiller’s successful proposal will map the preexisting human B cell repertoire within the draining lymph nodes of the upper and lower respiratory tract that bind and respond to next-generation influenza vaccines. This study will provide a framework of B cell specificities in the respiratory tract to improve mucosal vaccine design.
Romain Guyon, Ph.D. Student
“Demonstration of new single-dose vaccine technology towards a first-in-man clinical application.”
Single-dose immunization could provide an effective solution to improving global vaccination coverage and easing the logistical and cost burdens during outbreaks. Mr. Guyon uses a novel microfluidics system to generate biodegradable particles encapsulating the vaccine booster dose to be delivered with the priming vaccine dose in a single injection, delaying the booster release in the body. Mr. Guyon’s successful proposal will assess the utility of this technology using the licensed rabies vaccine for single-visit post-exposure prophylaxis and assess scale-up feasibility to facilitate a first-in-human clinical trial.
Brittany Hartwell, Ph.D.
“Engineering albumin-hitchhiking intranasal vaccines with enhanced transmucosal uptake to promote immunity.”
To combat the global HIV epidemic and evolving threats such as SARS-CoV-2, immunization strategies are needed that elicit protection at mucosal portals of entry to halt transmission. Immunization directly through airway surfaces is effective in driving mucosal immunity, but poor vaccine uptake across mucosal barriers is a major limitation. Dr. Hartwell’s winning proposal uses a strategy of ‘albumin hitchhiking’ that enables an intranasal vaccine to efficiently bypass mucosal barriers in the nose in order to promote stronger mucosal immunity.
About the Michelson Medical Research Foundation
Founded by Dr. Gary K. Michelson in 1995, the Michelson Medical Research Foundation accelerates solutions to global health challenges by fostering high-risk, high-reward approaches that disrupt the status quo to make innovative ideas a reality. Through convergent collaboration among engineers, scientists, and physicians, the foundation helps rapidly move bold concepts and technologies from the laboratory into clinics and communities around the world. Michelson Medical Research Foundation is a division of Michelson Philanthropies. For more information, visit: https://www.michelsonmedicalresearch.org/.
About the Human Immunome Project
The Human Immunome Project (formerly Human Vaccines Project) is a global NGO with the mission to build the first AI model of the human immunome to revolutionize scientific discovery and accelerate the development of vaccines and immunotherapies across major global diseases. The Project brings together international leading academic research centers, industrial partners, nonprofits, and governments with the goal to advance immunology research and transform diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of diseases for all people. For more information, visit: www.humanimmunomeproject.org