Essay Contest

The 2021 Essay Contest is now open! 

Essay topic: What is the most important scientific lesson you have learned from the COVID-19 pandemic? Discuss how that lesson will influence your research work and/or career.

The deadline to submit all materials is March 31 at 1 p.m. US Eastern daylight time. 

Submit your essay here

About the Contest

The Lasker Essay Contest engages young scientists and clinicians from the US and around the globe 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 broad audiences.  The topic is announced annually in early February and winners are announced in early July.


The Contest is open to medical school students, interns, residents, and fellows; doctoral students and postdoctoral fellows in biomedical sciences; and graduate students in public health or other health professions programs. Applicants must be currently participating in an educational program. This program may be located in any country.  


Winners will receive up to $5,000.  Monetary prizes will be directed to the winner's university to be used towards the winner's 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. References are not counted towards the 800 word limit. Field-specific scientific jargon should be avoided or explained.

Evaluation criteria

Essays will be evaluated based on their quality of writing, style, and clarity. Essays that are not written in English or are longer than 800 words will not be considered.

2020 essay contest and winners

2019 essay contest and winners

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


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Announcing the winners of the 2020 Essay Contest

Announcing the winners of the 2020 Essay Contest

This year's essay contestants wrote about scientists who inspired them. The Foundation received hundreds of thoughtful entries. Meet the winners.

Meet this year's Essay Contest 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.

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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.

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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.

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