The 2018 Student Voice Essay Competition – Findacure - www.africanwritershub.comThe 2018 Student Voice essay competition highlights the importance of rare diseases and patient engagement to the doctors and researchers of the future. Rare diseases affect approximately 350 million people worldwide, yet they are some of the most difficult conditions to diagnose. Despite the number of people affected and the challenge they pose for clinicians, the rarity of each individual condition means that little time is dedicated to them during medical school.

This year we are once again working with Medics4RareDiseases and the Orphanet Journal of Rare Diseases to capture the Student Voice. The competition is open to undergraduate and masters students around the world in all subjects, though it is most applicable to medical and biosciences students. It poses three questions that encourage you to think about the patient experience of rare diseases, and the ways that doctors and researchers can improve it. A winning essay will be selected for each question, with one essay chosen as the overall winner and securing a publication in a respected journal.


To enter the 2018 Student Voice essay competition, you need to answer one of the following questions in no more than 1,500 words:

Q1. Patients are the most important group of people involved in a clinical trial, but many do not feel respected or listened to. With reference to rare disease examples, evaluate existing approaches to patient engagement in clinical research and suggest ideas for the future.

Q2. Living with a rare disease is a life-long learning experience in which patients become experts in their own disease. Use a case study to demonstrate what future doctors can learn from patients with rare diseases.

Q3. The diagnosis and delivery of treatment for rare diseases can vary greatly from country to country. Compare and contrast rare disease healthcare provision of two countries of your choice. You may want to focus on a specific disease or stage in the patient journey e.g. newborn screening, diagnosis, access to treatment or access to clinical trials.


The 2018 Student Voice Essay Competition is primarily aimed at medical students, but anyone studying medical and biological sciences (spanning courses such as medicine, nursing, pharmacy, biology, genetics, biomedical science, pharmacology etc.) will be able to answer the questions.

Entrants may be at undergraduate or masters level, or medical students undergoing clinical training. Entries will not be accepted from PhD students.

Entries may be submitted by those studying other courses, but it is recommended that such entries focus on a personal experience with a rare genetic condition.

The 2018 Student Voice Essay Competition is open to students worldwide, but must be written in English.


Findacure is a UK charity that is building the rare disease community to drive research and develop treatments.


The authors of the winning essay in each category will receive a free ticket to Findacure’s Drug Repurposing for Rare Diseases Conference in February 2019, where they will receive their certificate. Travel expenses will also be covered.

The overall winner of the competition will have their essay published in Orphanet Journal of Rare Diseases to mark Rare Disease Day 2019.

The overall winner will also be invited to speak about their essay at the Medics4RareDiseases conference in 2019.

The overall winner will receive a £200 cash prize, with £100 going to the two runners up.

Runners up all have the opportunity to feature in BMC’s On Medicine blog.


Competition closes Monday 12th November.


  1. The essay must be 1,500 words or less. Essays over this limit will be disqualified. This word limit does not include the title, appendices or reference lists.
  2. Authors are encouraged to give their essay its own unique title, but should clearly indicate the question they are answering both on the entry form and essay submission.
  3. Only single authors will be accepted and the essay must not be plagiarised. Appropriate references must be provided.
  4. Authors may seek advice or guidance from an academic or clinical mentor, but this mentor must be acknowledged on the entry form.
  5. The essay must be word-processed and presented using a standard style (i.e. Times New Roman, size 12, line spacing 1.5).
  6. The essay should be written in an engaging style with all rare disease stakeholders, including patients, clinicians, scientists, and pharmaceutical representatives, in mind.
  7. A short summary of the essay, no more than 250 words in length, should be written on the entry form. This is not included in the usual word limit.
  8. Entries must be emailed to Dr Rick Thompson ( and accompanied by a completed entry form. The entrant’s name must not be present anywhere on the essay.
  9. Entries must be submitted by 9:00am UK time on Monday 12th November. Late entries will not be accepted and no allowance will be made for e-mail failures. We will notify you upon receipt of your essay.
  10. The subject of the e-mail must be in the style of ‘last name, first name – Findacure Essay Competition’.
  11. Students may enter up to one essay for each question, but each essay will require its own completed entry form. Authors who entered essays in previous years may submit new essays to the 2018 Student Voice essay competition. Resubmissions will not be accepted.
  12. Authors are encouraged to include patient stories, experiences, and case studies. Patient approval should be sought for this first.
  13. An expert panel of scientists, clinicians and patient groups drawn from Findacure’s extensive rare disease network will judge the essays and we will aim to notify winners by 21st December.
  14. The winner from each question will receive a £100 cash prize and will be invited to attend Findacure’s Drug Repurposing for Rare Diseases conference in February 2019. Findacure will pay travel expenses up to £50 within the UK. Additional funding will be available for winners based outside the UK, with the amount to be agreed in discussion with Findacure.
  15. The overall winner will receive an additional £100 as well as winning the opportunity to have their article published, free of charge, in the Orphanet Journal of Rare Diseases.
  16. Publication in the Orphanet Journal of Rare Diseases is subject to peer review, and as such, the winning essay may require some modification before publication.
  17. The winning essays may be published on the Findacure website. Alterations may be made to these in order to make them suitable for publishing. Credit will be given to the authors.
  18. Other winning essays, or highly ranked essays, will be considered for publication as blogs on the BMC Biology “On Biology” or “On Medicine” blogs. Such publication is at the discretion of the BMC Biology team, and all selected authors will be consulted prior to publication.
  19. The winning author may be invited to speak at the Medics4RareDiseases annual conference 2019.
  20. Findacure and Medics4RareDiseases reserves the right to give no prize should no submitted essays reach the expected standard.


Find more information about the 2018 Student Voice essay competition at the contest page.