Lasker Foundation Announces Winners of Annual Essay Contest, Recognizing Next Generation of Science Communicators

MSM student, Banafsheh Nazari, pins winning essay on the role of technology in healthcare.

Banafsheh Nazari

Banafsheh Nazari

(New York, July 13, 2021) The Lasker Foundation today announced the winners of its 8th annual Lasker Essay Contest, recognizing the next generation of science communicators. The Essay Contest invites young scientists – medical, biomedical, and other health profession trainees – from around the world to discuss big questions in biomedical research and policy.

This year, the Foundation received submissions from students based in 21 countries and selected five winners. Applicants were asked to address the following theme: What is the most important scientific lesson you have learned from the COVID-19 pandemic and how is that lesson influencing your research work and/or career?

 The 2021 Lasker Foundation Essay Contest Winners:

  • Ziad Ali, Stanford University, “What Happens Now?” – wrote about what it means to be courageous as a scientist in the face of uncertainty.

  • Banafsheh Nazari, Morehouse School of Medicine, “Embracing technology, the pandemic’s lesson for us” – discussed the expanded role of technology and how it is impacting her role as a future physician.

  • Trisha Pasricha, Massachusetts General Hospital, “One More Question” – wrote about health inequities and how they were amplified by COVID-19.

  • Miriam Saffern, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, “My Mother is a Layperson” – wrote about developing new communication skills in sharing her research investigations with those outside the medical field.

  • Adina Schonbrun, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, “The Cornerstone of Scientific Success: Unsung Frontline Heroes of the COVID-19 Pandemic” – addressed the importance of recognizing all the team members who contribute to science.

“Medical scientists braved the rapidly changing and often stressful pandemic experiences to continue to advance medical research,” said Claire Pomeroy, MD, MBA, President of the Lasker Foundation. “This year’s five winning essayists have eloquently shared important lessons learned in the course of this past year and ways they have been shaped and steeled as emerging leaders in science.”

Each of the five winners will receive a $5,000 stipend to use for educational expenses. The 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, along with interviews with each winner, are available on the Lasker Foundation website.

About the Lasker Foundation

The Lasker Foundation seeks to increase support for biomedical research by celebrating the power of biomedical science to save and improve human lives. Through its internationally renowned Lasker Awards, educational initiatives, and public advocacy, the Foundation recognizes the most important achievements in science and public service, supports and encourages the scientific leaders of tomorrow, and raises awareness of the ever-present need for research funding. Established in 1942 by Albert and Mary Lasker, the Foundation is committed to inspiring robust and sustained support for biomedical research, fueled by Mary Lasker’s call to action: “If you think research is expensive, try disease!” More information at