Human Research Protection

Health Improvement Institute established the Award for Excellence in Human Research Protection in 2001 to encourage and to recognize excellence and innovation in human research protection. The Office for Human Research Protections (of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services) was the founding sponsor of the award program.


Any institution or investigator who conducts health research involving human beings, including medical and social science research, or who contributes to human research protection, is eligible to apply for an award; self-nomination is acceptable. We welcome applications from outside of the United States. Please refer to individual award categories for specific eligibility criteria.

Award Categories

The Institute has established three award categories:

Best Practice: This award is given to a research institution, a unit, or an individual that has the best way, one of the best ways, or a proven way to achieve, or to contribute toward achieving, the protection that is the specified purpose of the practice.

Innovation: This award is given to an individual (or a team) who has introduced an innovation in or has developed a novel approach to the protection of human health research subjects.

Lifetime Achievement: This award is given to an individual who has made significant contributions to the protection of human subjects of research over a continuous period of at least 20 years.

Award Application

An application must be accompanied by 1) completed application form and 2) answers to questions for the applicable Award, according to the instructions in the application packet. There is no fee for applying for an award.

Award timeline

Key points in the annual award cycle include:

  • Entry Deadline: Last Monday in September
  • Judging: October/November
  • Winners Notified: November
  • Winners Announced & Certificates/Plaques Sent: December

Judging/Selection of Winners

Award applications are evaluated by credentialed judges who volunteer their time to the award program. The Judges Credentialing Committee determines whether or not a person who applies to become a judge meets established judge credentialing criteria.

For each category of award, the Institute forms separate panels of credentialed judges, to the extent possible, to represent different aspects of the research enterprise (e.g., based on judges’ current position, geographic location, etc.). Judges evaluate award applications against established award criteria and record their evaluations on a structured form.

Award Levels

Separate awards are given for Best Practice, Innovation, and Lifetime Achievement.

Annual Award: Winners receive frame-ready certificate, engraved brass commemorative plaque, special winner’s logo (which awardees are entitled to display on their websites, in their publications, etc.); winners are also acknowledged in the award press release and appropriate Institute communications (which are distributed to thousands of health-related organizations appropriately every two or three weeks).

Award of Excellence: Winners receive a frame-ready certificate and the award logo; may purchase plaques; winners are also acknowledged in the award press release and appropriate Institute communications.

Certificate of Merit: Entrants receive a frame-ready certificate.

Certificate or Appreciation: Entrants receive a frame-ready certificate.

Award Committees

Award Advisory Board: Award Advisory Board (AAB) provides advice on all aspects of the award program. The AAB consists of representatives of organizations that hold important roles in or related to the research enterprise, such as, research sponsors/funders, researchers/research institutions, human research protection professionals, research study participants, consumer or research participant advocates, and voluntary associations concerned with health care, diseases, treatments, and research.

Award Steering Committee: Award Steering Committee (ASC) provides advice and feedback to the award program coordinator and staff on operational matters, such as appointing members to implementing committees, improving the award program structures, establishing policies and procedures, and drafting award program materials.

Judges Credentialing Committee: The Institute invites and accepts applications to serve on the Judges Credentialing Committee (JCC) year around. Members of Award Steering Committee evaluate applicants’ qualifications against established JCC credentialing criteria. The Institute selects JCC members to evaluate applications to become a judge.

Apply to be a Judge

Please fill out the application to apply to be a judge.

Contact us today to request more information about our health research award or the application process. We recognize organizations throughout the United States and around the world from our headquarters in Bethesda, MD.