The Parasite Awards
Celebrating rigorous secondary data analysis
About the award

The "Parasites"

PSB Awards for rigorous secondary data analysis.

The act of generating new hypotheses from existing data is a major component in the process of science. Dr. Albert Szent-Györgyi has been quoted as saying "discovery consists of seeing what everybody has seen, and thinking what nobody has thought." Recent advances in data sharing, combined with the expectation that publicly funded research will be shared, have led to projects that consist largely of secondary analysis of data. The practitioners of this craft may analyze or combine these data in ways that answer scientific questions that the initial investigators did not consider. In a 2016 editorial, the New England Journal of Medicine termed these people "research parasites."

The Parasite awards, given annually, recognize outstanding contributions to the rigorous secondary analysis of data. This practice of secondary analysis plays a key role in scientific ecosystem: conclusions that persist through substantial reanalysis are expected to be more credible; and analyses that extract more knowledge from underutilized data make the practice of science more efficient.

Or, phrased slightly differently:

The Parasites currently consist of two awards: the first recognizes an outstanding contribution from a junior parasite (postdoctoral, graduate, or undergraduate trainee), and the second recognizes an individual for a sustained period of exemplary research parasitism.

Eligibility & Application

How to apply for an award.

Application Process

For either award, submit an application by October 14, 2016 at 5PM HST (Hawaii Standard Time) to An application requires:

  • A nomination letter describing how each selected paper meets the criteria for the award. Self nominations are encouraged, and all nominees must be aware that they have been nominated.
  • Junior Parasite (aka the sporozoite): a PDF of one paper published after peer review on which the application will be judged.
  • Sustained Parasitism (aka the merozoite): PDFs of three papers published after peer review on which the application will be judged.

The award winners will be recognized at the Pacific Symposium on Biocomputing each year, and listed on the PSB website, along with links to the winning papers.


Selection criteria (both awards) for the work in question:

  • The awardee must not have been involved the design of the experiments that generated the data.
  • The awardee published independently of the original investigators, and the original investigators are not authors of the secondary analyses but are appropriately credited in the manuscripts.
  • The awardee may have extended, replicated or disproved what the original investigators had posited.
  • The awardee has provided source code and intermediate or final results in a manner that enhances reproducibility.

Additional selection criteria for the Junior Parasite award:

  • The awardee must have published the work at the training stage of their career (postdoctoral, graduate, or undergraduate). If the awardee has assumed a position as an independent investigator she or he should not have been in that position for more than 2 years.
  • The award will be based on work described in a single manuscript (submitted alongside the nomination letter).

Additional selection criteria for the Sustained Parasitism award:

  • The awardee must be in an independent investigator position in academia, industry or public sector.
  • The awardee must be a last or corresponding author on the three manuscripts submitted alongside the nomination letter.
  • At least a five-year period must have elapsed between the publication of the first manuscript and the final manuscript.

Prize & Supporters

Those who make this possible.


The winners of each award will receive:

  • a $500 prize from Nature Genetics.
  • a free one-year electronic subscription to Nature Genetics.
  • an article-processing charge waiver for an article in Scientific Data.
  • a Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation Klean Kanteen and notebook.
  • a leather parasitic lamprey with magnetic head

Financial support for the award has been provided by: Nature Genetics, Scientific Data, The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, and Casey Greene.

Travel Support

Travel support is available to the recipient of the Junior Parasite award. Generous sponsorship from GigaScience and Scientific Data will allow us to cover the costs of economy airfare and hotel for the duration of the meeting. Support from GigaScience, Scientific Data, and Nature Genetics will allow us to cover the cost of registration for the Pacific Symposium on Biocomputing, where the award is announced.


GigaScience aims to revolutionize reproducibility of analyses, data dissemination, organization, understanding, and use through open access and open data publication of 'big data' studies across the life and biomedical sciences.

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Nature Genetics

Nature Genetics publishes research that encompasses genetic and functional genomic studies. Current emphasis is on common and complex diseases and on the functional mechanism, architecture and evolution of gene networks.

Nature Genetics Logo

Scientific Data

Scientific Data is an open-access journal for descriptions of scientifically valuable datasets from a broad range of research disciplines – helping make research data more available, citable, discoverable, interpretable, reusable and reproducible. Scientific Data Logo

Administrative Support

Funding for the award is managed with administrative support from the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine's Department of Systems Pharmacology and Translational Therapeutics. If you would like to team up with us to celebrate secondary data analysis with a one-year contribution (e.g. via a travel award), please send an e-mail to Casey Greene. If you would like to contribute to an endowment for the award, please send an e-mail to Casey Greene and cc Torren Blair.

Selection Committee

The committee has sole responsibility for determining the recipient of the parasite awards. As discussed in the conflict of interest rules, the committee and individual members are unable to comment on any unselected nominations.

Casey Greene

Chair. Award Cycles 2017-2020.*

Lana Garmire

Award Cycles 2017-2019.*

Melissa Haendel

Award Cycles 2018-2021.*

Marylyn Ritchie

Award Cycles 2017-2018

Erick Turner

Award Cycles 2018-2019.

*Selection of new committee members: For the three four-year term positions (current members marked with a star), the award committee will have the right to nominate new members, and the PSB organizers will have the right to confirm selected nominees. For the two two-year terms positions, recipients of the Sustained Parasitism award will rotate on to the committee.

Former Members

  • Larry Hunter (Founding Member, 2017 Award Year)
  • Jack Gilbert (Founding Member, 2017 Award Year)

Award Recipients

Exemplars of research parasitism.

Award and Conflict of Interest Rules

  1. PSB conference co-chairs do not serve as nominator or endorser for any nomination submitted for this award.
  2. Members of this award committee do not serve as a nominator for any nomination for this award. If you have nominated a candidate, inform the committee chair immediately so that one of two actions may be taken: (a) the nomination will be set aside for the year, or (b) you will step down from the committee for the year.
  3. Members of this committee should not be directly involved in nominations prior to their submittal. Members can answer general questions about what a nomination should include but may not pre-review or comment on draft nominations.
  4. Members must maintain confidentiality about the internal discussions of the committee. Information about committee deliberations should not be shared with anyone outside the committee, nor should the winner be discussed until PSB has issued a formal statement.
  5. Members of this committee and the committee as a whole do not provide feedback to unsuccessful candidates. If a member is asked for feedback, this policy should be cited.
  6. Members of this committee are not eligible to be nominated for the award during their time on the committee. Individuals in the research group of a committee member are also not eligible to be nominated for the award during that member’s time on the committee.
  7. Members of this committee must self-identify any relationships/affiliations that might be perceived as a source of potential bias, and inform the committee chair of the COIs before any candidates have been discussed. Identify any candidates with whom you: have had close personal or working relationships within the past 5 years or the period covered by the award, whichever is longer; anyone for whom you were thesis advisor/advisee; anyone for whom you were a postdoctoral advisor/advisee; anyone for whom you were a faculty mentor/mentee; or any other case where your judgment could be affected. Also identify any candidates from your current institution or one where you worked within the past 5 years.

In the event that a committee member has a relationship described in rule 7 with one or more nominees, s/he should disclose that relationship to the other committee members and describe the nature of the relationship(s). The other committee members should then decide (without the conflicted committee member) whether the conflict is adequately mitigated by disclosure. In the event that a majority of the other committee members believes the conflict is not adequately mitigated by disclosure, the following procedure should be followed: (1) The conflicted committee member may not participate in the discussion of the conflicted nominee; (2) If the non-conflicted committee members feel a conflicted nominee should be an awardee, then those committee members should send a written description of the conflict and the rationale for their decision to the PSB co-chairs; (3) if a majority of the PSB co-chairs believe the decision has been improperly biased by the conflict, the conflicted nominee cannot be the award winner, and the committee will be tasked with selecting a different awardee.