Two University of Washington professors — Alex Luedtke and Tyler McCormick — are among 60 researchers the National Institutes of Health has named recipients of its 2019 Director's New Innovator Awards.

The awards are part of the NIH's annual High-Risk, High-Reward research program, which supports creative scientists pursuing innovative biomedical research for broad impact. There are 93 recipients nationwide who will share $267 million in grant money over five years, pending available funds. Luedtke and McCormick have each been awarded $2,332,500.

Luedtke is a UW assistant professor of statistics, and an affiliate assistant member of the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Division at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. His research project uses aspects of machine learning to create statistical models to answer questions in public health, with an emphasis on those in infectious disease prevent research.

McCormick is a UW associate professor of statistics and sociology. He is a core faculty member in the Center for Statistics and the Social Sciences and is a senior data science fellow at the eScience Institute as well as the editor of the Journal of Computational and Graphical Statistics. His research project looks at how uncertainty in data-gathering and statistical modeling informs decision-making processes undertaken by policymakers.

The High-Risk, High-Reward Research program supports scientific discovery through innovative research proposals that, due to their inherent risk, may struggle in the traditional peer review process despite their scientific. Program applicants are encouraged to think outside-the-box and to pursue trailblazing ideas in any area of research relevant to the NIH mission.

Of the 93 awards, 60 were New Innovator awards. Also announced were 11 Pioneer awards, 13 Early Independence awards and nine Transformative Research awards.  

In 2018, one UW researcher was among 89 awardees; in 2017 three UW researchers were among 86 awardees.

Adapted from an NIH news release. For more information, contact Alex Luedtke at or Tyler McCormick at

A special thank you to the UW News, Public Information Officer, Peter Kelley for writing this article.