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The Lasker Foundation today announced the five winners of its 10th annual Lasker Essay Contest. The winning submissions were selected from hundreds of essays penned by biomedical graduate students and health professions trainees from 25 countries. The winning essayists explored unanticipated ethical issues encountered during their training and strategies used to address them.

Louise Downs

The Lasker Essay Contest engages early career scientists and clinicians globally 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. As part of a recently announced three-year partnership with The Journal of Clinical Investigations (JCI), the winning essays will be published by JCI and Lasker in tandem, allowing for expanded visibility within the broad, international biomedical research community.

This year, the Foundation selected five winners from 280 submissions, including Louise Downs from the Matthews Group at NDM’s Wellcome Centre for Human Genetics and Medawar Pathogen Research. Her essay, ‘Is a Test Better Than No Test When There Is No Treatment?’, weighs the pros and cons of searching for a diagnosis when there is no possibility of treatment.

Each winner will receive a $5,000 stipend to offset educational expenses. Topics included the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in biomedical research, scientific reproducibility, appropriate use of diagnostic testing and issues of patient recruitment and consent.

“Researchers encounter a wide range of challenging ethical issues in their work,” said Claire Pomeroy, MD, MBA, President of the Lasker Foundation. “This year’s five winning essayists describe ethical quandaries they faced during their training and engagingly communicate the rationales for their responses. At the Lasker Foundation, we celebrate their capacity for clear and persuasive communication, helping to assure us all that the future of biomedical research is in thoughtful hands.”

The Essay Contest invites young scientists – medical, biomedical, and other health profession trainees to discuss big questions in biomedical research and policy. The 2023 contest was 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 from around the world.

The winning essays are available on the Lasker Foundation website and within JCI’s July 17 issue.