2022 Maurice R. Hilleman Essay Contest

Submissions to the 2022 Maurice R. Hilleman Essay Contest are now closed. Please check the calendar for important dates: 

  • Aug. 26, 2022 through Sept. 2, 2022 – Notification of student winners 
  • Sept. 6 through Sept. 12, 2022 – Notification of teacher winners 
  • Sept. 23, 2022 – Celebratory event and public announcement of  winners 
  • Sept. 26, 2022 – Publication of winning essays 

Check back in April 2023 for details about next year's contest! 

2022 Writing prompt:
Maurice Hilleman was a determined scientist. Describe what this means and provide an example of determination in science. 

Dr. Maurice R. Hilleman was a virologist who developed more than half of the vaccines that young children receive today. His work, credited with saving 8 million lives every year, was cutting edge. His unmatched success required determination and creativity to address unresolved or newly encountered issues. To celebrate Dr. Hilleman’s legacy, the Vaccine Makers Project of the Vaccine Education Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia is holding an essay contest to provide students in grades 6 to 12* from the U.S. and Canada an opportunity to learn about Dr. Hilleman and consider the importance and role of determination in science.  
*Grades 6 to 11 in Quebec  

Thank you to the co-sponsors of the 2022 Maurice R. Hilleman Essay Contest:

essay contest partner logos - stacked


Students in grades 6 to 12* living in the United States (including District of Columbia and U.S. Territories) or Canada and enrolled in a public, private, cyber, religious or charter school or who attend a home school pro­gram can participate. (Judging will take into consideration author’s age, and winners will be named by country.) *Grades 6 to 11 in Quebec  


Learn about Dr. Hilleman, and then write a 500- to 600-word essay that responds to the prompt: “Maurice Hilleman was a determined scientist. Describe what this means and provide an example of determination in science.” Essay should be written in English or French using complete sentences and appropriate grammar. One entry per person. See “Official Rules” at HillemanFilm.com for complete details.  

3 Winners from each country will each receive:

US$1,000 cash prize

Winner certificate and VEC prize bag

Recognition at a virtual award event on Friday, September 23, 2022. 
Event will be hosted by Dr. Paul Offit - VEC director, vaccine inventor and Hilleman biographer. The event will also include special guests and student winners reading their essays. 



Completed entries were due by June 10, 2022 (online or by postmark). 


Teacher named in winning students’ entries will receive a signed copy of Pan­dora’s Lab: Seven Stories of Science Gone Wrong, written by Paul A. Offit, MD, and a 1-year, complimentary membership to the National Association of Biology Teachers (NABT), graciously provided by NABT. 

Previous winners

See the winning essays from previous years:  

2021 winning essays 

2020 winning essays 

2019 winning essays