SIU Med School Receives Grant to Pursue Research in Nonsurgical Animal Sterilization

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A research scientist at Southern Illinois University School of Medicine has received a Michelson Grant to pursue an innovative approach to nonsurgical animal sterilization.

Prema Narayan, Ph.D., associate professor of physiology at the School of Medicine in Carbondale, received a three-year grant from the Found Animals Foundation’s Michelson Prize & Grants in Reproductive Biology totaling $581,287. Her project, “Targeting the luteinizing hormone receptor to induce infertility” aims to develop a single-dose, nonsurgical sterilant for cats and dogs. She is studying a receptor found predominantly in ovaries and testes, known as the luteinizing hormone receptor (LHR). This receptor is vital for fertility.

“Our hypothesis is that selective ablation of cells in the gonads that express LHR will result in sterility for both males and females,” Narayan said.

Her lab will create an immuno-toxin containing a hormone called chorionic gonadotropin. This material will be tested as a novel sterilant, or chemical agent, that will function by ablating gonadal cells with LHR.

The project could result in a nonsurgical approach for animal sterilization. “Availability of a single-dose sterilant that can be administered in a shelter will be cheaper than surgery, may increase the chances of the animal being adopted, and prevent unnecessary euthanasia of companion animals,” Narayan said.

Michelson Grants are awarded to researchers in pursuit of an innovative approach to nonsurgical animal sterilization. The $25 million Michelson Prize will be awarded to the first entity to provide the foundation with a single-dose, permanent, nonsurgical sterilant that is safe and effective in male and female cats and dogs.

Narayan joined SIU School of Medicine in 2005. She previously was a research scientist at the University of Georgia where she first started researching reproduction. Narayan was a postdoctoral research associate at Case Western Reserve University (1988) and received her Ph.D. in biochemistry from the University of Minnesota (1984). She received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Bangalore University, India. Her research interests include gonadal development and fertility and the development of hormone drugs.

The mission of SIU School of Medicine is to assist the people of central and southern Illinois in meeting their health needs through education, patient care, research and community service. SIU’s research efforts cover a wide range of basic and clinical sciences. More than 170 research projects funded by outside organizations, primarily federal agencies, are underway in 100-plus laboratories. For information, call 217-545-8000, or visit

Founded by philanthropist Dr. Gary Michelson, Found Animals is an independently funded nonprofit that works to achieve one goal – to find the big ideas that help reduce the number of pets euthanized each year in shelters. In 2008, Found Animals launched the $75M Michelson Prize & Grants in Reproductive Biology to incentivize research through prize philanthropy and grant funding to rapidly develop a single-dose, nonsurgical sterilant for male and female cats and dogs. For more information on the Michelson Prize & Grants, visit, or connect with us on Facebook.

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