In 1999, the Association of American Medical Colleges, Washington (AAMC) established the annual Nickens Lecture Award.
Herbert W. Nickens, MD, was an AAMC vice president and a former Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Clinical Scholar. He was also a director of two programs designed to increase the number of qualified underrepresented minority students in medicine via the AAMC's Project 3000 by 2000 and RWJF's Minority Medical Education Program. He died in 1999.
- Donald Wilson, MD, was the first recipient of the Herbert W. Nickens, MD, Awards in October 2000 in recognition of his efforts to promote diversity and equity in health care.
- In November 2001 Lee C. Bollinger—then president of the University of Michigan and who will become the 19th president of Columbia University effective July 1, 2002—became the second recipient of the Nickens Lecture Award in recognition of his efforts to protect the educational needs of minority students.