• Press Release

Icahn School of Medicine Graduate Student Wins Lasker Foundation Essay Contest

Miriam Saffern, graduate student at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai is a 2021 winner of the Lasker Foundation 8th annual Essay Contest, recognizing the next generation of science communicators.

  • New York, NY
  • (July 19, 2021)

Miriam Saffern, graduate student at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai is a 2021 winner of the Lasker Foundation 8th annual 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 include:

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 https://laskerfoundation.org/winners-of-the-2021-lasker-essay-contest/.

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 laskerfoundation.org.

About the Mount Sinai Health System

Mount Sinai Health System is one of the largest academic medical systems in the New York metro area, with more than 43,000 employees working across eight hospitals, over 400 outpatient practices, nearly 300 labs, a school of nursing, and a leading school of medicine and graduate education. Mount Sinai advances health for all people, everywhere, by taking on the most complex health care challenges of our time — discovering and applying new scientific learning and knowledge; developing safer, more effective treatments; educating the next generation of medical leaders and innovators; and supporting local communities by delivering high-quality care to all who need it.

Through the integration of its hospitals, labs, and schools, Mount Sinai offers comprehensive health care solutions from birth through geriatrics, leveraging innovative approaches such as artificial intelligence and informatics while keeping patients’ medical and emotional needs at the center of all treatment. The Health System includes approximately 7,300 primary and specialty care physicians; 13 joint-venture outpatient surgery centers throughout the five boroughs of New York City, Westchester, Long Island, and Florida; and more than 30 affiliated community health centers. We are consistently ranked by U.S. News & World Report's Best Hospitals, receiving high "Honor Roll" status, and are highly ranked: No. 1 in Geriatrics and top 20 in Cardiology/Heart Surgery, Diabetes/Endocrinology, Gastroenterology/GI Surgery, Neurology/Neurosurgery, Orthopedics, Pulmonology/Lung Surgery, Rehabilitation, and Urology. New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai is ranked No. 12 in Ophthalmology. U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Children’s Hospitals” ranks Mount Sinai Kravis Children's Hospital among the country’s best in 4 out of 10 pediatric specialties. The Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai is one of three medical schools that have earned distinction by multiple indicators: It is consistently ranked in the top 20 by U.S. News & World Report's "Best Medical Schools," aligned with a U.S. News & World Report "Honor Roll" Hospital, and top 20 in the nation for National Institutes of Health funding and top 5 in the nation for numerous basic and clinical research areas. Newsweek’s “The World’s Best Smart Hospitals” ranks The Mount Sinai Hospital as No. 1 in New York and in the top five globally, and Mount Sinai Morningside in the top 20 globally.

For more information, visit https://www.mountsinai.org or find Mount Sinai on FacebookTwitter and YouTube.