Continuing the legacy of critical ethical analysis of contemporary medical issues

The Beecher Prize continues Dr. Henry K. Beecher's legacy of critical ethical analysis of contemporary medical issues by awarding a prize of $1,000  to an HMS or HSDM student for the best scholarly essay on any topic in ethics and medicine. Submitted essays are judged by a blind panel with expertise in medical ethics.

Submission process:

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. Ten to twelve pages is the suggested length, with a 15 page maximum.

Entries must be emailed by April 15 to: Attn: Beecher Prize Committee at

Criteria for judging essays:
  • 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.
  • Clarity of expression and quality of writing.

Past Beecher Prize Winners:

2019 Essay: Revisiting the Vegetative State: A Disability Rights Law Analysis by Hillary Chua.
2018 Essay: "The Ethics of Public Health Nudges: Libertarian Paternalism and the Manipulation of Choice"  by HMS student Derek Soled.
2017 Essay: "A Decade Has Passed: It's Time to Mandate HPV Vaccination," by HMS student Michelle Bayefsky.
2016 Essay: "Negotiating Ambiguities in Life and Death," by HMS student Margaret Hayden.