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John D. Morgan, PhD


The John D. Morgan Award is a $5,000 cash award presented each year to an outstanding PhD student in the Department of Biomedical Informatics. The Awards Committee will make the award based on the study of the following materials:

  • NIH Biosketch

  • Student’s transcripts

  • Letter of recommendation by the applicants' supervisory committee’s chair

  • Copy of student’s best submitted manuscript

The student must also be approved as a PhD candidate by passing the qualifying examination following completion of the first year of biomedical informatics class work. The awardee will present at a Graduate Seminar following their selection.

John D. Morgan, PhD

John D. Morgan graduated from Brigham Young University in Electrical Engineering. He received his PhD from the University of Utah Department of Medical Informatics in 1971. The title of his dissertation was "A Computerized 'Conversational' Technique to Form Numerically Coded Medical Diagnoses".

John D. Morgan, PhD

After graduation, John joined the faculty and served as a faculty member until 1978, when he and a department associate, Wilf Libieber began a business called "Code 3". The business was sold to the 3M Company in 1983, and he became a consultant to 3M. It was with funds from the sale of his company to 3M that John so generously endowed the John D. Morgan Fellowship. John was married to Nada Ann Caldwell and they had seven children. John passed away July 18, 2006 and Nada followed March 1, 2007.

Student Eligibility

PhD students who have passed their qualifying exams (both written and oral), who have submitted at least one publication to a peer-reviewed journal related to their PhD research, and who is currently registered as a student in the Department are eligible.

past recipients

2022 - Ryzen Benson

I am honored and privileged to be receiving the 2022 John D. Morgan Award. I would like to sincerely thank the Morgan family for their continued support towards biomedical informatics and their generous contribution to our department. Dr. Morgan’s legacy continues to inspire students in the Department of Biomedical Informatics which is evident by the innovative science and service contributed by students and faculty in the department and throughout the scientific community. 

Over the past four years, I have been able to attend the presentation of the John D. Morgan Award which has always left me striving to be the best scientist and community member I can be. A long list of remarkable scientists have received this award, and I am incredibly grateful to join them. Once again, thank you to the Morgan family for their ongoing support of science and the students in the Biomedical Informatics department. 

2021 - Sejal Mistry

I am honored to receive the 2021 John D. Morgan Award to support my training in the Department of Biomedical Informatics. In addition to being a pioneer in the field of Biomedical Informatics, Dr. Morgan was a champion for student education. His legacy inspires me to be a compassionate leader in my academic and personal endeavors. It was a privilege to meet the Morgan family and share my ongoing thesis research with them and our informatics community. With the support of the John D. Morgan Award, I will continue my training in the intersection of biomedical informatics and medicine at the University of Utah. Thank you again to the Morgan family for their generosity and continued support in training exceptional PhD students at the University of Utah’s Department of Biomedical Informatics!

2020 - Siru Liu

I feel very fortunate and honored to receive the John D. Morgan Award in 2020. I am sincerely grateful to Dr. John D. Morgan and his family for establishing this award. With the completion of my Ph.D. research, this award has provided me with financial assistance to continue my research in clinical decision support as I transition to the postdoctoral phase. Dr. Morgan has made remarkable contributions to the field of biomedical informatics as well as exemplifying outstanding character. By following the example of Dr. Morgan, I will further pursue high-quality academic research to contribute to this field. I hope one day I can support more females and other minorities to pursue a graduate-level study in biomedical informatics in the future to pass on the generosity of the Morgan family.


2019 - Michael Watkins

Dr. Morgan believed in the potential of biomedical informatics to fundamentally reshape how we provide medical care to the human family. It is a thrilling time to be a researcher in this field and I’m grateful to have been selected as a student whose work is furthering this effort in a notable way. This award not only provides financial respite, but affirms to me that daily efforts to learn and contribute are noticed and appreciated. I’m inspired by the generosity of the Morgan family who provide this kind of incentive for the students in our department.

2018 - Rosalie Waller

2017 - Tiago Colicchio

2016 - Lance Pflieger

2015 - Duy Bui

I would like to thank Dr. John D. Morgan and his annual award to recognize PhD student's contributions to the department, science, and community. Attending every John D. Morgan seminar always makes me feel motivated and humbled to push my endeavor further. I feel fortunate to win the 2015 award, since other BMI students deserve it, too. It came by the end of my dissertation research, which gave me financial leisure for some time. Recognized by the award, I feel more confident to pursue my research career in Biomedical Informatics, and currently accept a research position at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Thank you again for creating such a meaningful award which was already part of BMI department tradition.

2014 - David Jones

I cannot begin to tell you what an honor and privilege it is to receive the 2015 John D. Morgan Award. I am very humbled and thankful for receiving the opportunity to be the recipient this year. From what I have learned in conversations and reading about Dr. John D. Morgan, he was a great man. He truly was focused on reaching the pinnacle of academics, research, and service to the community. I hope to be able to embody the characteristics and qualities that this award and John D. Morgan represent.

This award is going to afford me many opportunities during this final year of my pre-doctoral education at the University of Utah. It provides me with the flexibility to attend conferences over the next year and present the work that my colleagues and I are completing at the university. The award has already helped in allowing me to attend the 2015 AMIA Joint Summits on Translational Science to present work on "Identifying Candidate Ataxin-2 Inhibitors in High-Throughput Screening Data Using Molecular Descriptors.

Thank you again John D. Morgan and family for creating this award and providing the opportunity for me, as well as other students through the years, to apply for and receive this prestigious honor!

2013 - Brandon Welch

It is truly an honor and privilege to receive this award established in memory of John D. Morgan, PhD. Dr. Morgan lived an exemplary life both in and out of the informatics profession. As one of the early pioneers in informatics, Dr. Morgan’s efforts have had a significant impact on advancing the industry to where it is today. In addition to his impressive professional accomplishments, Dr. Morgan was an even more successful husband and father of seven children. Dr. Morgan is truly an exemplary human being, one whom I aspire to emulate in my own personal and professional ambitions. As I near the completion of my PhD efforts related to clinical decision support for genomics and personalized medicine, as well as other efforts I’ve been fortunate to take part in during my academic pursuits, this award is allowing me to complete these efforts with greater focus and intensity. I hope to complete these efforts with the quality and impact that Dr. Morgan would be proud of. Indeed, I am sincerely grateful to the Morgan family for their ongoing contribution to and interest in Biomedical Informatics education. I hope to continue the same generosity one day in the future.

2012 - Kailah Davis

I am sincerely honored and grateful to have been selected as the recipient of the 2012 John D. Morgan award. Growing up in a less privileged community has not only offered financial and academic challenges, but it has more importantly made me realize the value of a college education. In the fall of 2009, I started my first year at the University of Utah, committed to earning a PhD degree in Biomedical Informatics. Although, these past three years have been very challenging, I expect the knowledge I have gained will prepare me for a successful career in the biomedical informatics field. During these three years I was fortunate to be awarded with the National Library of Medicine trainee fellowship, which allowed me to be solely devoted to my studies and research. However, as my fellowship is coming to an end, the John D. Morgan award will help fund the last few months of my degree; thus affording me the opportunity to continue with my educational pursuits.

This recognition is also a source of great encouragement and a strong motivator to continue to strive towards excellence in research, particularly in the developing field of public health informatics. Upon completion, I would like to continue my training in this field but with a strong focus on designing and developing public health surveillance systems and an emphasis on transferring research developments into the public health setting.

I want to thank the Morgan family for their generosity, and I look forward to the time that I can help others as they've helped me.

2011 - Olga Patterson

The years as a graduate student have taught me that academic success is based on scholastic excellence, high quality of research, and service to the community. I have seen the intelligence and dedication of other students, and I am honored to be found worthy of the outstanding graduate student title. I am grateful to Dr. Morgan and his family for providing their financial support. 
As I am getting closer to graduation, I have started looking for a job. I expect that the Morgan Award will allow me to expand my job search beyond the Salt LakeCity area. In addition, the award will make it possible for me to attend a conference this year to present the results of my research to a wider community.
I am inspired by the example of John D. Morgan, who turned his PhD project into a real product. My own research has resulted in a prototype of a system that I hope to implement in a real clinical environment.

2010 - Stephen Piccolo

Receiving the Morgan Award was a great honor for me, and I enjoyed meeting two of his children at the seminar. I can tell Dr. Morgan was an incredible man, and it's great to be associated with his memory in some small way.

Having observed other Biomedical Informatics students who received this award, I was inspired to reach higher in my studies, in my research, and as a person. Their accomplishments challenged me to seek the same levels of excellence that they achieved. Although I can't say I attained the same successes that they did, I can definitely say that they (and the award) inspired me to reach higher.

Receiving the cash prize associated with this award has been a huge blessing to me and my wife. We have been fortunate enough to pay our bills during school, but we haven't had much left over. So we will be grateful to be able to use these some of these funds to take a trip together and to buy a few fun things.

I am currently a postdoctoral researcher at the Huntsman Cancer Institute, pursuing research in the area of translational bioinformatics. It's been a rewarding opportunity to continue learning new things every day and be in an environment focused on improving the lives of others. I hope to carry the momentum I've gained from my BMI education into my future career so I can make meaningful and lasting contributions.

2009 - Scott L. DuVall

2008 - Karen Curtin

As a self-funded student, the Morgan Award allowed me to pursue post-graduate job position options as a new Ph.D. without the same financial and time constraints as I would have had, otherwise; it allowed me to travel to explore positions at Oregon Health Sciences University and to attend the 100th Annual Meeting of the American Association of Cancer Researchers this past Spring (in which I presented an abstract and was able to participate in valuable early-career seminars). The Morgan Award is a very generous prize, and it was my distinct honor and pleasure to meet and have lunch with members of Dr. Morgan's family.

Five first-author reports published, out of five manuscripts, which comprise my body of PhD. dissertation work, in well-recognized cancer and genetics journals.

  • Two additional first-author publications in print and one in press, since finishing my Ph.D. program in December, 2008
  • Exploring collaborative pilot projects with other University of Utah faculty in the College of Pharmacy and School of Medicine
  • Currently, I am under consideration for a research assistant professor faculty appointment in the Division of Genetic Epidemiology, Dept. of Internal Medicine at the University of Utah School of Medicine. I recently received CCTS funding to join the University of Utah Study Design and Biostatistics Center, as a genetic epidemiologist, to provide biostatistical genetics support to the University research community.

2006 - Shobha Phansalkar

The prestige associated with the Morgan Award enabled me to strengthen my Resume when I was applying for academic/research jobs, especially a Biomedical informatics programs where Utah alumni are Chairs or Faculty. In the short term, the Morgan Award allowed me to present my research paper at the Med Info conference held in Australia in 2007. Owing to the location, the cost associated with attending this conference required students to shoulder some of the cost- the Morgan Award allowed me to offset this and be able to present my research at an International conference.”

“After graduating from the Department I took up a part operational, part academic role, at Partners Healthcare and Harvard Medical School. I especially enjoy the duality of my role which allows me to participate both with actual implementation of clinical information systems in the hospital environment and employ research methodologies to make them better.

2006 - Benjamin Horne

The Morgan Award aided me via several avenues. This includes that the Award provided an academically measurable landmark for the successes that I was having in my education that demonstrated to my professors at the University of Utah and to my cardiovascular colleagues at Intermountain Healthcare that what I had achieved was meritorious. This was both a complement to their training of me and an encouragement for them to keep investing in me. The Award provided a financially measurable benefit that demonstrated to my family that their sacrifices and endurance through my 9 years of graduate school (including my two masters degrees before the PhD) were worthwhile. The Award thus allowed and encouraged me to continue to pursue cardiovascular research and to imagine new projects to pursue.

Completing a PhD at the University of Utah in 2005, I was appointed the Director of Cardiovascular and Genetic Epidemiology in the Cardiovascular Department at LDS Hospital and subsequently at Intermountain Medical Center. In April, 2007, I received an appointment as Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Department of Biomedical Informatics at the University of Utah. Since completing my doctoral degree, I have been an author on more than 60 published peer-reviewed manuscripts and 80 published abstracts. I am currently pursuing research on the calculation and clinical use of genetic risk scores for predicting and stratifying genetic risk in common complex diseases, the discovery of genome-wide genetic markers of coronary heart disease and peripartum cardiomyopathy, the effects of routine periodic fasting behavior and genes it may upregulate on coronary heart disease and longevity, the establishment of clear phenotypic population subgroups and appropriate clinical endpoint definitions to reduce variation in results among genetic studies of cardiovascular diseases, the effects of air pollution on cardiovascular risk, the preventive and prognostic utility of complete blood count and basic metabolic profile-based risk scores that predict mortality and common causes of mortality, and other traditional epidemiology studies. I am also involved in several national and international collaborations for the creation and clinical use of pharmacogenetic algorithms for use in warfarin therapy, in studies of genome-wide associations for pharmacogenetic markers that predispose patients to serious adverse events when treated with common medications, and collaborations with multiple centers for genome-wide association studies of coronary heart disease endpoints.

2003 - Charles Lagor

The John D. Morgan fellowship award is one of the highlights in my medical informatics career. The funds gave me the financial backing to conduct a novel type of medical chart review. The theoretical and practical knowledge gained during my research prepared me very well for my current industrial research career at Philips Research North America, which I joined in 2005 after my graduation. At Philips, I started driving innovations in the area of stroke management, which led to a clinical decision support system prototype that is now being clinically evaluated. I am collaborating with a biological modeling company in developing a computerized model of sepsis, which ultimately will provide physicians with a powerful tool to predict the course of this critical condition. This year, I have been appointed as the leader of a project cluster in the area of real time procedure guidance overseeing seven projects. The John D. Morgan fellowship award most certainly contributed to my successes. It is a great honor to have been awarded such a prestigious prize, and I associate with it pleasant memories of my graduate years in Salt Lake City.

1994 - Yu-Chuan Li

1993 - Robert Rudowski

1992 - Di Guo

1991 - Joseph W. Hales

The Morgan award provided funds for me at the conclusion of my studies that allowed me to finish my PhD and permitted my wife to remain at home with our then, two children. This was incredibly helpful, as the award represented in increase in my stipend.

Following completion of my PhD, I joined the faculty of Duke University in the Department of Community and Family Medicine. It was a great privilege to work with Ed Hammond on electronic health record systems and help grow the Duke-UNC Informatics Fellowship Program. While at Duke I became involved in Medical Informatics education and was the program chair for the 1999 AMIA Spring Congress focusing on informatics education. I left Duke to take the director role of the informatics program at the University of Missouri. While at Missouri, I was Director of the NLM Biomedical Health Informatics Training Program and the Donald Lindberg Center. In 2000, I was fortunate to be named a Fellow in the American College of Medical Informatics and to serve one term on the Board of Directors of AMIA. In 2003 I joined the informatics team at Intermountain Healthcare in a shift to operations. I am currently the Regional Director of IS for Primary Children’s Medical Center and an Associate Professor in the Department of Biomedical Informatics.

1990 - Gerald (Kip) Canfield

I am currently a tenured Associate Professor at the University of Maryland, UMBC in the Baltimore area. The Morgan Award was very helpful for me in getting my academic position here and acquiring the funding to establish the Laboratory for Healthcare Informatics.

1989 - David L. Ranum

1988 - Lisa Cannon-Albright

The Morgan Award definitely kept food on the table as Derick and I were both in graduate school at the same time. It allowed us both to continue our schooling.

I am now in the middle of a really fun research career. I took over the Genetic Epidemiology Division in the Department from my chair, Mark Skolnick (faculty in Medical Informatics) when he went on to found Myriad Genetics. I was lucky enough to participate in the gene identification of BRCA1, BRCA2 and p16 in collaboration with Mark and Myriad. I continue my research in predisposition gene identification. My group and I will move to a newly established Division of Genetic Epidemiology in the Department of Internal Medicine in January 2010.

1985 - Karen Bradshaw Tate

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