Essay Contest

We are proud to announce the winners of the 2018 Essay Contest.  

Subscribe to our newsletter for more information about the contest and to stay-tuned for details on the 2019 Essay Contest topic:

About the Contest

The Lasker Essay Contest engages young scientists and clinicians in a discussion about big questions in biology and medicine and the role of biomedical research in our society today.  The Contest aims to build skills in communicating important medical and scientific issues to broader audiences.  The Essay Contest topics are announced annually no later than the second week of February and can be found on this webpage.


The Contest is open to medical school students, interns, residents, and fellows; doctoral students and postdoctoral fellows in biomedical research; graduate students in public health programs; and graduate students in other health professions programs.  The 2018 Essay Contest is open to both US and international applicants, including those from programs outside the US.


First-place award is $10,000 and an expense-paid trip (economy class travel and one-night hotel stay) to New York City to meet the 2018 Lasker Award winners (on September 21, 2018). Second- and third-place prizes are $5000 and $2500, respectively. All monetary prizes are to be used towards educational expenses.


Essays should be of 800 words or less and must be written in English. The file containing the essay should include the essay title and the applicant's name, email, and institutional affiliation. Figures and references are not required but one image (uploaded separately) and up to 10 references (included within the text body) may be submitted. Specific examples from the world of biomedical research should be included in your essay to illustrate your ideas more effectively. Field-specific scientific jargon should be avoided or explained.

Evaluation criteria

Essays will be evaluated based on 1) the innovation of the ideas and proposals and 2) how well these ideas are conveyed, i.e. the quality of writing, style, and clarity. Essays that are not written in English or are longer than 800 words will not be considered.

2018 essay contest and winners

2017 essay contest and winners

2016 essay contest and winners

2015 essay contest and winners

2014 essay contest and winners


Abigail Cline: Ready for a Challenge

Abigail Cline: Ready for a Challenge

The winner of the 2017 Lasker Essay Contest shares her fascination with the essay contest topic and why she uniquely linked it to the arts, as well as her future plans as a physician and screenwriter.

Read More
Interview with the 2017 Lasker Awards winners

Interview with the 2017 Lasker Awards winners

Before the Lasker Awards ceremony, Tammy Tran spoke to the 2017 Lasker~DeBakey Clinical Medical Research Award winners, Douglas R. Lowy and John T. Schiller.

Read More
Q&A with the winner of 2016 Essay Contest

Q&A with the winner of 2016 Essay Contest

David Ottenheimer shares what inspired him to pursue a career in the field of psychiatric illness, his views on the role of researchers in science communication, and how he sees his future as a young scientist.

Read More