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Nominations for the 2021 Award are no longer being accepted.

The dissertation award and honorable mention is awarded annually. Here we outline the nomination process, eligibility requirements, judging criteria, and schedule. Forms to use when submitting a nomination, and instructions for how to submit, are provided at the end of this page.

View past winners


Nominations are generally made by either the student’s research mentor (typically the principal advisor) or department chair. Please note, however, that no more than one dissertation may be nominated in the same year by a single department or academic unit. Note also that it is acceptable for the nominator no longer to be at the same institution as the nominee (since research advisors may have moved or recent graduates may have taken positions elsewhere). If the candidate’s department has several potentially deserving dissertations that otherwise meet the eligibility criteria, the department may wish to create an internal process for selecting the nominee for that year. The individual making the nomination must be a member of AMIA, but this is not a requirement for the authors of supporting letters. A completed nomination packet has the following components:

Using the forms provided at the bottom of this page*:

  • A submission checklist that assures that the nomination packet is complete (Form 1)
  • An information sheet (see below) that provides contact information and affiliations for the candidate and for those individuals who are submitting the nomination and supporting letters. AMIA membership numbers are required for the nominee and nominator. Both parties must be current AMIA members and in good standing. (Form 2)
  • A summary sheet that summarizes the candidate’s work and contributions in accordance with specific guidelines (Form 3)
  • A signed statement by the candidate confirming his or her willingness to accept the award and to give a presentation at that year’s AMIA meeting if he or she is selected as the Awardee or the Honorable Mention winner (Form 4)

Additional Documents

  • A nominator's cover letter that also makes the case for the importance and quality of the candidate’s work and its adherence to the evaluation criteria
  • The candidate's Curriculum Vitae, including all publications
  • Supporting letters from no more than two individuals who are familiar with the student and his or her work; at least one of the supporting letters should ideally come from an individual who is not at the same institution as the nominated student
  • Copies of the cover page and signature page for the completed dissertation, including all required signatures
  • The candidate's complete dissertation in PDF format. Note that the maximum file size for uploading on the submission site is 10MB. If the dissertation is larger, please submit it in two sections. For example, you may wish to put any appendices, or large figures/images, in a second file. If the total size exceeds 20MB, please contact so that we can work out an alternate submission mechanism.

Candidate Eligibility

Candidates for the Doctoral Dissertation Award must be AMIA members or student members whose doctorate has been conferred by the university no more than 18 months prior to the date on which nominations are due (see below for schedule). If formal conferral of the degree is pending at the time of the nomination, the dissertation must have been completed and deposited with the university.
Nominees must have completed, or be about to complete, a research PhD, DSc or equivalent degree in one of the following fields:

  • Biomedical informatics or equivalent (medical informatics, health informatics, nursing informatics, bioinformatics, etc.)
  • Computer science, information science, cognitive science or related discipline (but with an applied focus on biomedicine)

In keeping with AMIA’s focus on translational science and its Joint Summit meetings, a bioinformatics dissertation must deal with a translational bioinformatics topic (i.e., it must have explicit relevance to human health and/or disease). Dissertations dealing with general biology, animals, or agriculture, for example, will not be considered.

Health professional doctorates (MD, DMD, DNSc, etc.) do not confer eligibility unless one of the research doctorates noted above has also been completed in the time frame specified. Masters’ dissertations are not eligible, nor are dissertations nominated in the previous year’s competition.

International nominations are welcome, although candidate dissertations and nomination materials must be written in excellent English.


The primary consideration in assessing nominated dissertations is the quality, importance, and innovation reflected in its contribution to the methodological science (theory or techniques) of informatics. There are often specific biomedical or health applications that motivated the work, and these are of interest to the judging committee, especially if those applications have had demonstrated success or impact. However, the application itself will not be emphasized in assessing the importance of the dissertation. The award is intended to encourage students to consider how they have innovated from an informatics perspective and how the methods they have developed generalize to other application domains. A discussion of the range of application of the methods is to be expected, and there will be particular strength in a dissertation if the methods that were motivated by one application domain were subsequently shown to be applicable in another biomedical or health domain as well.

Secondary but important considerations is the quality of the writing (clarity, organization, grammar, readability, and focus) and testimonials regarding the quality of the individual’s oral presentations on the subject of his or her work (in anticipation of the awardee’s semi-plenary talk at the AMIA Symposium). The dissertation is expected to demonstrate a grasp of prior work and to offer a clearly stated rationale for the new directions taken by the student investigator. There must also be evidence of independent work, both in the definition of the research focus and in a supportive but not overly directive role of mentors in supervising the graduate student’s work.

It is recognized that a contribution to informatics science will also typically be a contribution to one of the field’s component disciplines. As a result, evidence of peer-reviewed publications, presentations, awards, or other recognition in the component discipline (e.g., computer science, decision science, cognitive science, social and behavioral science, organizational theory, management science, statistics, and the like) greatly strengthens the case for a nominee’s work and broad contribution.

Schedule for 2021

AMIA issued a call for nominations at the 2017 Annual Symposium.

  • August 1, 2019: The earliest date when the doctoral degree of a nominee may have been conferred.
  • December 15, 2020: Submission web site opened for nominations.
  • February 1, 2021: Deadline for submission of nominations, including the final version of the dissertation as formally submitted to the cognizant university. No extensions beyond this date will be granted.
  • June 2021: Judging committee deliberations complete. Awardee and Honorable Mention selections are announced.
  • At the Symposium: The Awardee and the Honorable Mention will both be recognized in person at the opening session. They will then share in giving presentations of 45 minutes each in a 90-minute semi-plenary session later in the meeting.


AMIA will publicize the individuals who receive the Dissertation Award and the Honorable Mention through suitable press releases and announcements on its web site. As in prior years, additional finalists may be identified as well.

Submission of Nomination

All nominations must be submitted by February 1, 2021. Thereafter, no further 2021 nominations will be accepted. During the rest of the year, nominators for the 2022 award can begin to put together nomination materials for candidates. Nominations must be submitted online by the nominator. It is not appropriate to assign this task to the nominee or an administrative assistant.

Note that the following forms should be downloaded and used for the first four items on the list of materials that are required for a nomination.

*Note: These forms should be directly downloaded to your desktop and not accessed or filled out from within the browser. Once the files are downloaded, use Acrobat to fill them out, save them, and share them with co-nominators. The resulting PDF, with edits, can then be uploaded as part of the submission of the nomination.

When you have prepared all the required materials summarized above, upload them to complete the nomination process. The website to use is:

Follow this link and log in to submit the nomination as directed. Changes to previously uploaded nomination materials can be submitted until the February 1 deadline.

Do not submit the forms and other nomination materials by email. Be sure that both the nominee and nominator have joined AMIA if they are not already members. Nominees may not fill out the nomination materials (except for Form 4).