Call for Entries: The 18th Annual Henry K. Beecher Prize in Medical Ethics

Henry K. Beecher
Henry K. Beecher, MD

The Center for Bioethics at Harvard Medical School announces a call for submissions for the Eighteenth Annual Henry K. Beecher Prize in Medical Ethics, a prize of $1,000 for “the best essay in the field of medical ethics written by an HMS or HSDM student”. The papers will be judged by a panel with expertise in medical ethics, which will be blinded to the authors. The $1,000 prize will be awarded to the student who submits the most outstanding scholarly essay on any topic in ethics and medicine. 

Essays are judged on the following criteria: clear presentation of the ethical issue and its importance, including its historical and social context; ethical analysis of alternative approaches to the issue; ethical justification of any concluding recommendations; originality of thought; scholarly rigor; and clarity of expression and quality of writing. Students may submit an original piece of writing or work done for a class; authorship should be the student’s alone. Papers should be double-spaced in 11 point font with 1” margins. 10-12 pages suggested, 15 maximum.

The Beecher Prize is established in honor of Henry K. Beecher, MD, the late Henry Isaiah Dorr Professor of Anaesthesia, first Professor of Anaesthesia at Harvard, and indefatigable clinician, educator, and investigator, including provocative work in the 1950’s on the effects of “placebos” in medicine and research.   Dr. Beecher helped launch the modern field of medical ethics with his explosive 1966 New England Journal of Medicine article, "Ethics and Clinical Research", which exposed widespread ethical violations in research using human subjects. Many of these studies had been published in leading peer-reviewed medical journals and supported by agencies of the U.S. Government. Dr. Beecher's paper catalyzed major and enduring ethical reforms in human experimentation and patients' rights. The Beecher Prize continues Dr. Beecher's legacy of critical ethical analysis of contemporary medical issues.

Entries must be submitted by Tuesday, MAY 31, 2016, to: 

Beecher Prize Committee
HMS Center for Bioethics
641 Huntington Avenue, 2nd floor
Boston, MA 02115

or emailed to