2014 Essay Contest International House

Essay Contest

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 topic of the 2018 Essay Contest is: How can social media help build trust in science and the research enterprise? Your answer should include a discussion of the benefits and challenges of your recommendations. 

The deadline to submit all materials is March 30, 2018. Winners will be announced in early July on our web site.


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. 

Subscribe to our Newsletter to receive updates about the Essay Contest program 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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Barbara Lynch Crossing Borders Essay Awards Program

This annual award is named after Barbara Lynch who touched the lives of thousands of residents directing the I-House Program Office from 1966 to 1988. After Barbara died in 2001, Hugo and Elfi Tarazona established an endowment for the Barbara Lynch Crossing Borders Essay Awards Program. The fund provides awards to three residents who capture the essence of their I-House experience in a composition. The 1st place winner has the special honor of reading their essay as the I-House Resident Keynote Address at the last Sunday Supper of the academic year. Below are the winners from 2015.

Previous Essay Contest Winners



Joint First place:
First Encounters, I-House Style, Alexandra "Lexi" Lambeck
and A Melodious Awakening, Vishwanath Bulusu

Second place:
The Modern Frontier; Going Forth to be Transformed, Hatti Sudell

Third place:
The I-House Alphabet, Renee Manneh
South Africa, Get Back to I-House: It’s the Best Cure, Cai Nebe


Joint First place:
The world in my home, Iulia Suc
International home, Mathilde Dugit-Gros
and The Spirit Transforms!!! Vishwanath Bulusu

Honorable Mention:
Walking up to the Dome, Ricardo Franca



First place
Anna Elena Torres

Second place
Vishwanath Bulusu

Third place (Joint)
Dohyung Kwon & Rahul Verma

Honorable Mention
Junghyun Kim



First place:
Interior Borders (excerpt below), Elena Gavagnin (Italy)

Second place:
The World In A Grain of Sand
, Nándor Gergely (France)

Third place:
Connecting The Lifestyles, Kaho Ito (Japan)

Honorable Mentions:
Unexpected discoveries, Darko Cotoras (Chile) Integrative Biology

Untitled, Florance Ma

See photo of 2011 Winners

Excerpts from Interior Borders
Elena Gavagnin (Italy)

The very big achievement is just understanding that the borders are inside us, because this would imply that we do not have to change the world, but we should just change ourselves.

The experience we are doing here, staying in a foreign country, together with all others foreign countries, is an extraordinary experience, that most people cannot experiment. And it is exactly the kind of strong experience that can really change a person, in his deeply believes. The unique opportunity that I-House offers is to have all the world in the same place at the same moment.

You don't need trains, cars o planes to travel, you just have to do the stairs and rest in the Great Hall, and you are there, in the world. Consider how it is difficult to have all the country leaders sitting at the same table to discuss of world issues, and now think about how it is easy to sit at the same table with people of ten different countries in the Dining Hall? And you can do it all the days, all the year! It like a dreamy-leaders global-meeting one year long! It is something will never happen to them!

The only little detail is that we are not the country leaders. But actually we are even better: we are the future! And since this, we can determine the future of our countries! I don't know how many leaders have had a similar experience, maybe the world would be different, would be better.

But this experience is unique not only because we know people from other countries but also because we know people from our own country. It could seem not so strange, since, obviously, in your own country you meet a lot of people from your own country. But you usually do not meet
them outside of it.

I am italian, and of course I was italian also before coming here, but now when I say I am italian there is a different sense of consciousness. It could seem a paradox but I think I really meet my country here, for the first time.

Read full essay (pdf)


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