Lecture Series

Howard Taylor Ricketts Prize and Lecture

Howard Taylor Ricketts Medal in Gold

The BSD's oldest and most prestigious lecture


The Howard Taylor Ricketts Prize is given annually in recognition of outstanding accomplishments in any area of biomedical and biological sciences. It was established by the Ricketts family in 1912 in honor of Howard Taylor Ricketts, a pathologist at the University of Chicago who discovered the cause of Rocky Mountain spotted fever.

The prize is traditionally awarded after a public lecture on the University of Chicago campus in May of every year.

Past Lectures

Akiko Iwasaki, PhD, the Sterling Professor of Immunobiology and Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology at Yale University and an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, gave the 108th annual Howard Taylor Ricketts lecture on the Immunology of long Covid on Tuesday, May 30, 2023. 

Read more about the 108th lecture

View photos and watch the 2023 lecture below 

Molecular geneticist Helen Haskell Hobbs, MD, Professor of Internal Medicine and Molecular Genetics, Chief of the Division of Medical Genetics, and Director of McDermott Center for Human Growth and Development at the University of Texas, Southwestern, gave the 107th annual Howard Taylor Ricketts lecture, "Nature, Nurture, and Fatty Liver Disease," on Monday, May 2, 2022.

Read more about the 107th lecture 

Year Award Recipient Research
1914 Esmond Ray Long On the Presence of Adenase in the Human Body; The Purines and Purine Metabolism of Some Tumors in Domestic Animals
1914 George Lester Kite The Relative Permeability of the Surface Protoplasm of Animal and Plant Cells
1914 Julian Herman Lewis Absorption of Substances Injected Subcutaneously and the Inhibitory Action of Heterologous Protein Mixtures on Anaphylaxis
1915 Maud Slye The Influence of Inheritance on Spontaneous Cancer Formation in Mice
1916 Oscar Jacob Elsesser The Action of Immune Sera on Vegetable Proteins with Special Reference to the Specificity of Abderhalden Reactions
1917 Enrique Eduardo Ecker The Pathogenic Effect and Nature of a Toxin Produced by B. Paratyphosus B
1918 Harry Lee Huber The Pharmacology and Toxicity of Copper Salts of Amino Acids
1919 Frederick William Mulsow A Comparative Study of Bacillus Pullorum and Bacillus Sanguinarium
1920 Emanuel Bernard Fink The Antigenic Properties of the Proteoses
1921 Ivan Clifford Hall Studies in Anaerobes
1922 Louis Leiter Observations on the Relation of Urea to Uremia
1923 Harry Montgomery Weeter Infectious Abortion in Domestic Animals
1923 Lauretta Bender Hematological Studies in Experimental Tuberculosis of the Guinea Pig
1923 Robb Spalding Spray A Bacteriological Study of Pneumonias of Sheep
1924 Sara Elizabeth Branham I. The Toxic Products of Bacillus Enteritidis
II. The Production of Lung Hemorrhages and Associated Phenomena in Rabbits and Guinea Pigs
1925 Florence Barbara Seibert The Cause of Febrile Reactions Following Intravenous Injection
1926 Gail Monroe Dack Studies on Clostridium Botulinum
1927 Casper Irving Nelson The Intracellular Properties of the Proteins Of Bacteria
1928 George William Bachman A Precipitin Test in Experimental Trichiniasis
1928 James Roy Blayney Tissue Reaction in the Apical Region to Known Types of Treatment
1929 George William Stuppy The Production and Prevention of Pneumonia and Other Pneumococcus Infections: Experiments on The Rabbit and on Monkeys (macacus Rhesus And Cebus Capucinus)
1930 Arthur John Vorwald The Cellular Reaction to Infection with Tubercule Bacilli in Animals of Varying Resistance
1931 Guillermo Alfredo Pacheco Tissue Immunity
1932 William Burrows The Nutritional Requirements of Clostridium Botulinum
1933 James Alexander Harrison Absorptions of Poliomyelitis Virus and Antibody Acids on Aluminum Hydroxide Gel
1933 Oram Clark Woolpert Direct Bacteriological Experimentation on the Living Mammalian Fetus
1934 Thomas Christman Grubb Studies on the Coccus Forms of Corynebacterium Diptheriae
1934 Paul Eby Steiner The Role of the Avian Tubercule Bacillus in the Etiology of Hodgkins’ Disease
1935 Sion Woodson Holley The Corneal Reactions of Normal and of Tuberculosis Guinea Pigs in the Tuberculo-protein and Tuberculo-phosphatide
1935 Floyd Stephen Markham A Study of the Submaxillary Gland Virus of Guinea Pigs
1936 Dan Hampton Campbell Study on an Antigenic Polysaccharide Fraction of Ascaris Lumbricoides (from Pig)
1936 John Perrigo Fox Studies of the Localization and Concentration of Blood Borne Antibodies and Colloidal Dye in Areas of Inflammation of Various Ages and on the Permeability of the Lungs to Antibodies
1937 Winton Elizabeth Gambrell Experimental Studies on Variations in Gametocyte Production in Avian Malaria
1938 John Marshall Weir The Vascular Processes in the Schwartzman Phenomenon as Observed in Pulmonary Reactions
1939 George Hartley, Jr. The Local Formation of Anti-vaccinial Antibodies by the Skin
1940 Harold Rawson Reames Pathogenesis and Immunity in Ectromelia Virus Infection of the Nasal Mucosa of the Rat
1941 George Green Wright The Antigenic Relationship Between Horse Antibodies and the Proteins of Normal Horse Serum
1942 José Oliver-Gonzales The Dual Antibody Basis of the Acquired Immunity in Trichinosis
1943 Howard Carl Hopps Allergy as a Factor in Wound Disruption and Delayed Wound Healing
1943 Leo Robert Melcher An Antigenic Analysis of Trichinella Spiralis
1944 Paul Everett Thompson Studies in Saurian Malaria with Special Reference to Plasmodium Mexicanum, n.sp.
1945 Maurice Ralph Hilleman Immunological Studies on the Psittacosis-lymphogranuloma Group of Viral Agents
1946 Preston Ershell Harrison A Study of the Effect of Chemotherapeutic Agents on the Development of the Immunity to Experimental Pneumococcus Infection and the Relation of the Immune Mechanism to Bacterial Chemotherapy
1947 Robert William Wissler The Effects of Protein-depletion and Subsequent Immunization Upon the Response of Experimental Animals to Intradermal Pneumococcal Infection
1947 Ned Blanchard Williams Studies on Immunological Reactions of Oral Lactobacilli

No Award Given

1949 Ludvig Hektoen And Russell Morse Wilder The Rickettsial Diseases: Discovery and Conquest
1950 Simeon Burt Wolbach Rickettsial Diseases
1951 Herald Rea Cox Recent Advances and Current Problems in the Field of Rickettsial Disease
1952 Thomas Francis, Jr. The Significance of Variation Among Influenza Viruses
1953 Joseph Edwin Smadel Influence of Antibodies on the Immunological Responses in Scrub Typhus
1954 John Rodman Paul The Past and Present History of Infectious Hepatitis
1955 Ernest William Goodpasture Host Cell Responses to Viral Mutants
1956 John Clifford Bugher Changing Patterns in Public Health
1957 Jonas Edward Salk Poliomyelitis – From the Perspective of Biology
1958 René Jules Dubos Nutrition, Emotion and Infections
1959 Albert Bruce Sabin Oral Immunization Against Poliomyelitis with Live Attenuated Polioviruses – Development Problems, Present Status and Future Possibilities
1960 Karl Friederich Meyer Plague in the Light of Newer Knowledge
1961 Seymour Benzer Genetic Fine Structure
1962 John Franklin Enders Recent Observations on Reactions of Cells in Culture to Viral Infection
1963 Richard Edwin Shope The Epidemiology of the Origin and Perpetuation of a New Disease
1964 Sir Christopher Howard Andrewes Viruses and Noah’s Ark
1965 Renato Dulbecco Viruses and Control Mechanisms in Animal Cells
1966 Charles Yanofsky Gene Structure and Protein Structure
1967 Jerome W. Conn Primary Aldosteronism (Hypokalemic and Normokalemic), a Cause of Curable Hypertension
1968 Robert J. Huebner Cancer as an Infectious Disease
1969 Carroll M. Williams Genes, Hormones, and Metamorphosis
1970 Robert A. Good Experiments of Nature in Immunobiology
1971 Solomon A. Berson And Rosalyn S. Yalow Scope and Applications of Radioimmunoassay with Special Reference to Heterogeneity of Peptide Hormones
1972 Wilhelm Bernhard Structural and Functional Correlations in Normal and Cancer Cells
1973 Robert M. Chanock Genetic Manipulation of Viruses and Mycoplasmas with the Aim of Preventing Acute Respiratory Tract Disease
1974 Wallace P. Rowe Viruses as Genes in Mammalian Cells
1975 John A. Clements Pulmonary Surfactant in Health and Disease
1976 Maurice Green Adenoviruses – Model Systems of Virus Replication, Human Cell Molecular Biology, and Neoplastic Transformation
1977 David S. Hogness The Arrangement of Genes in Drosophila as Studied by Recombinant DNA
1978 Purnell W. Choppin Structure and Function of Paramyxovirus and Myxovirus Membranes
1979 James Darnell, Jr. Transcription and Processing of Nuclear RNA: Implications for Gene Regulation
1980 Leroy E. Hood Antibodies: Split Genes and Jumping Genes
1981 Hidesaburo Hanafusa Virus-induced Cell Transformation: Expression of Cellular Genes
1982 George Streisinger A New Approach to Vertebrate Developmental Genetics: Experiments with Zebrafish
1983 Maurice R. Hilleman Immunologic Prevention of Human Hepatitis
1984 Robert A. Weinberg Human Tumor Oncogenes
1985 Phillip A. Sharp RNA Splicing and Introns
1986 Marc W. Kirschner Microtubules and Morphogenesis
1987 Michael G. Rossmann Neutralizing Common Cold and Other Picornaviruses with Antibodies And Antiviral Drugs
1988 Mark M. Davis T Cell Receptor Genes and T Cell Recognition
1989 Piet Borst The Mechanism of Antigenic Variation in African Trypanosomes
1990 Nina V. Fedoroff Jumping Genes in Corn Plants
1991 Peter K. Vogt From Transcription Factor to Oncoprotein: The Story of Jun
1992 Ira Herskowitz Control of the Cell Cycle and Cell Polarity in Yeast
1993 Gerald M. Rubin Signal Transduction During Drosophila Eye Development
1994 Bert Vogelstein Genetic Basis of a Common Human Cancer
1995 Stanley Falkow The Molecular and Genetic Basis of Bacterial Pathogenicity
1996 Elliott Kieff Seizing Control of Cell Growth: How an Oncogenic Human Virus Does It
1997 Barry R. Bloom Protection and Pathogenesis in Tuberculosis: Paradigm of a Global Health Problem
1998 Anthony S. Fauci Host Factors in the Pathogenesis of HIV Disease
1999 Philippa Marrack Oxygen, the Oldest Executioner of All
2000 Thomas D. Pollard Cellular Motility Powered by Assembly and Disassembly of Actin Filaments
2001 John Collinge The Human Prion Diseases and BSE: Molecular Biology and Risks to Public Health
2002 Joan Massagué The TGF-Beta Signaling Pathway in Development and Disease
2003 Thomas E. Wellems Chloroquine-Resistant Malaria: Its History, Burden, and Scientific Challenge
2004 Joan Argetsinger Steitz Viral SnRNPs: Avengers or Evaders?
2005 Peter Palese Influenza: Old and New Threats
2006 Douglas A. Melton Stem Cells for Tissue Formation and Repair
2007 Anthony J. Pawson Protein Interaction Domains in Cell Signaling and Disease
2008 Ruslan Medzhitov Innate Immune System
2009 Huda Zoghbi Insight about Neuropsychiatric Disorders from the Study Of Rett Syndrome and MeCP2
2010 Alan Cowman Moving House and Renovating: Erythrocyte Invasion and Survival of the Malarial Parasite in the Human Host
2011 C. David Allis Beyond the Double Helix: Varying the Histone Code
2012 Don W. Cleveland From Charcot to Lou Gehrig: Mechanisms and Therapy in ALS and Beyond
2013 Susan Lindquist The Wonderful New World of Prion Biology
2014 Jeffrey I. Gordon Dining in with Trillions of Fascinating Friends: Establishing Causal Relationships between Our Gut Microbiomes and Nutritional Status
2015 Bonnie L. Bassler Manipulating Quorum Sensing to Control Bacterial Pathogenicity
2016 Peter Donnelly Meiosis, Recombination and the Origin of a Species
2017 Elaine Fuchs Stem Cells in Silence, Action and Cancer
2018 Robert G. Roeder Transcriptional Regulatory Mechanisms in Animal Cells
2019 Michael N. Hall

mTOR Signaling in Growth and Metabolism

2020 Cancelled due to COVID-19 Pandemic  
2021 Cancelled due to COVID-19 Pandemic  


Nominate a Speaker

Nominations may be submitted at any point throughout the year.

  • Nominations are accepted from members of the UChicago community and beyond. Nominations by those at external institutions are highly encouraged. Nominees should be external to the University.
  • Historically, this prize has been awarded to distinguished scientists in numerous biomedical and biological disciplines, including cell and molecular biology, microbiology, immunology, neuroscience, and genetics. We encourage nominations from different fields which may be of broad interest to the BSD.
  • Please nominate speakers whose scientific accomplishments are of exceptional quality, who are highly engaging and interactive, and who inspire you. Speakers may be from academia, industry, or other relevant institutions and we encourage you to consider speakers across all demographics. 
  • The awardee will receive a cash award of $50,000 and a medal, after a public lecture (each year in May) on the University of Chicago campus.

Nominations should include a full curriculum vitae of the candidate as well as a brief (200–500 word) statement of the candidate's contributions and impact in any area of biomedical and biological sciences. We will consider all nominees who have made transformative contributions to their field, independent of career stage.

Submit a nomination through the online form here. To submit more than one nomination, please submit a separate entry using the web form. 


Sepia toned photo of Dr. Howard Taylor Ricketts in suit and tie, straight-faced, against a blank backdrop

About Dr. Howard Taylor Ricketts

The lecture series is named after Dr. Howard Taylor Ricketts, who was an Assistant Professor in Pathology at UChicago from 1902 to 1910. He was the first person to describe the tick-borne pathogen that causes Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, as well as the related organism that causes typhus fever.  

While researching typhus fever in Mexico City, he contracted the disease and died at the age of 38. As a memorial to her husband, Myra Tubbs Ricketts in 1912 donated $5,000 to the University. She stipulated that the income from the endowment was to go to providing an annual prize—the Howard Taylor Ricketts Prize—for "the student presenting the best results of research in Pathology or Bacteriology." The Ricketts family has supported the award ever since. 

Today, the Howard Taylor Ricketts Laboratory (HTRL), located on the campus of Argonne National Laboratory, is one of 13 Regional Biocontainment facilities located throughout the United States constructed by partnerships between the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and local academic institutions. 

Visit the UChicago Library exhibitions to learn more about Dr. Ricketts and his work.