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 the 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:
I propose a new science award: "The Research Parasite Award is given to those who used someone else's data to do some really cool sh*t"— Iddo Friedberg (@iddux) January 22, 2016
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.
We encourage readers to broadly share this call, and we strongly encourage members of groups that are underrepresented in scientific communities to apply for this award.
Applications for the 2020 Research Parasite Awards must be received by September 30, 2019 at 5PM HST (Hawaii Standard Time) at email@example.com. We expect that winners will attend PSB 2020 to receive the award. We will raise as much funding as we can from sponsors to cover travel costs to the extent possible. An application requires:
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:
Additional selection criteria for the Junior Parasite award:
Additional selection criteria for the Sustained Parasitism award:
By submitting an application you agree that the decisions of the parasite award committee are final, and the committee is unable to provide feedback on applications that were not selected.
Recipients of both awards will receive a leather lamprey with a magnetic head. This lamprey can be attached to ferromagnetic surfaces. Previous award winners have attached them to lamps, to produce lamp-reys. The physical prizes are supported by an award from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation (GBMF 4552) to Casey Greene.
Each award recipient will receive a $500 cash prize. We are currently working to raise travel funds from sponsors. See below if you'd like to sponsor a travel award.
To receive a prize, we are now strongly requesting the awardee to attend the meeting. The committee may also name a number of honorable mentions for one or both awards, which may be accompanied by a small cash prize.
Each year, our sponsors have supported these awards to enable early-career scientists to attend the meeting and share the story of their research parasitism. We are in the process of arranging sponsorship now and will update this page as we receive contributions.
Starting for the 2019 award year, The Research Parasite Award will be supported in part by an endowment. This endowment is housed at the University of Pennsylvania and will provide modest prizes to the recipients as well as some travel support. If you would like to contribute to this endowment, donations may be made here. The initial donors to this endowment include:
Administrative support is provided by 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.
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 applications.
Chair. Award Cycles 2017-2020.*
Award Cycles 2018-2021.*
Award Cycles 2020-2023.*
Award Cycles 2020-2021.
Award Cycles 2019-2020.
*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.
2019 Junior Parasite
2019 Sustained Parasitism
2019 Junior Honorable Mention
Adam Palmer (Harvard University) analyzed clinical trials of cancer therapies and discovered that the benefit of many drug combinations is due to differences between patients in which single drug is most effective.
2019 Junior Honorable Mention
Marc Sze (University of Michigan) noted that in emerging fields, secondary analysis can help provide crucial direction on the most promising leads and steer us away from those that simply generate the most buzz. He reanalyzed microbiome data in one such area (obesity and the microbiota) to determine the extent to which reports exaggerated the true magnitude or potential of this factor.
2019 Senior Honorable Mention
Nick Brown (University of Groningen) used datasets from published articles to draw different conclusions from the original authors, sometimes with far-reaching consequences. Certain contributions revealed weaknesses in the science underlying a “smarter lunchrooms” program that was in use in nearly 30,000 schools.
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.