2015 Advocacy Awards Dinner

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium
1301 Constitution Avenue, NW, Washington, D.C.


Grand Reception

6:15 p.m. - 7:00 p.m.

Dinner & Awards

7:15 p.m. - 9:30 p.m.


Research!America's 19th Annual Awards Dinner honors outstanding advocates for medical, health and scientific research whose leadership efforts have been notably effective in advancing our nation's commitment to research. The dinner is a high-level gathering of research leaders, attended by the nation's most influential and esteemed individuals in science, health and medical research, advocacy, business, the media and government. Invited guests include elected and appointed federal officials and top leadership of the National Institutes of Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, National Science Foundation and the Food and Drug Administration.

The 2015 Advocacy Award winners are Reps. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and Diana DeGette (D-Colo.); ABC's "Good Morning America" anchor Robin Roberts; Michael Milken, founder of the Milken Institute and FasterCures; Dr. Kenneth Olden, Director, National Center for Environmental Assessment, U.S. EPA; David Van Andel, Chairman and CEO, and Dr. George Vande Woude, Founding Scientific Director, Van Andel Research Institute; and the Society for Neuroscience (SfN).

Reps. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) have been selected to receive the Edwin C. Whitehead Award for Medical Research Advocacy for their commitment to furthering the discovery, development and delivery of lifesaving medical advances. Their lengthy record of leadership support for medical progress includes the 21st Century Cures initiative, a bipartisan effort to accelerate the pace of new therapies and ensure the U.S. remains a world leader in science and innovation.

Robin Roberts, who will receive the Isadore Rosenfeld Award for Impact on Public Opinion, is anchor of ABC's "Good Morning America." Roberts has traveled to the Middle East with former First Lady Laura Bush, who was on a mission to raise awareness about breast cancer in the Muslim world; and to Africa with former President Bill Clinton for a first-hand look at the AIDS crisis in that part of the world. Roberts was diagnosed with breast cancer in June 2007. Her courageous and public battle has been recognized with awards and honors from organizations around the country, including The Susan G. Komen Foundation, The Congressional Families Cancer Prevention Program, and Gilda's Club, a non-profit organization founded by the late Joel Siegel. Five years later, Roberts was diagnosed with MDS or myelodysplastic syndrome, a disease of the blood and bone marrow.  She was responsible for a surge in individuals who signed up for the National Marrow Donor registry.

Michael Milken, selected to receive the Gordon and Llura Gund Leadership Award, has led a wide range of initiatives over four decades that have supported public health, re-envisioned education, expanded access to capital and accelerated medical research. Mike formalized his previous philanthropy in 1982 by co-founding the Milken Family Foundation, a major force for medical research and education reform. When funding increases slowed in 2003, he founded FasterCures, which works to remove bureaucratic and regulatory barriers to progress against all life-threatening diseases. In March 2014, George Washington University announced the naming of the Milken Institute School of Public Health in recognition of a gift from the Institute.

Dr. Kenneth Olden, director of the National Center for Environmental Assessment, U.S. EPA, will be honored with the Raymond and Beverly Sackler Award for Sustained National Leadership. He is considered to be the strongest champion of community based participatory research in the U.S. He was named director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) and the director of the National Toxicology Program (NTP) on June 18, 1991, by Dr. Louis Sullivan, secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). Dr. Olden is a cell biologist and biochemist by training, and has been active in cancer research for more than four decades. Dr. Olden was named by President George H. W. Bush to the National Cancer Advisory Board in January 1991.

David Van Andel and Dr. George Vande Woude, have been selected to receive the Geoffrey Beene Builders of Science Award. Van Andel is Chairman and CEO of Van Andel Institute in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Van Andel Institute has become a major contributor to science with the recruitment of top scientists and funding support. Work at the Institute encompasses basic as well as translational research, fueling developments in treatments for cancer and neurodegenerative diseases including Parkinson's. Dr. Vande Woude is among the pioneers who laid the foundation for our understanding of the molecular basis of cancer. As the director of the National Cancer Institute's (NCI) Basic Research Program in Frederick, Maryland, he recruited world class researchers and implemented a vital research review process. In 1999, he was selected to be the first director of the Van Andel Research Institute (VARI) where, in concert with David Van Andel, he built an exceptional cancer research program from the ground up.

The Society for Neuroscience (SfN), selected to receive the Paul G. Rogers Distinguished Organization Advocacy Award, is the largest organization of scientists and physicians devoted to advancing understanding of the brain and nervous system, with nearly 40,000 members drawn over 130 chapters around the globe and members from more than 100 countries. The Society's mission is to advance understanding of the brain and nervous system, provide professional development activities and educational resources for neuroscientists at all stages of their careers, educate the public about the wonders of the brain, and advocate for policies that promote research. SfN advocates for robust science funding to advance science and health, and for policies that support responsible animal research. 

Honorary Chairs

Click here to see our honorary chairs for the 2015 Advocacy Awards.

2015 Advocacy Award Sponsors: 


Corporate Host



Dinner Host


Tribute Reception Host / Grand Reception Hosts


Presenting Partners



Program Partners















Alzheimer's Association
American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy
Bristol-Myers Squibb
Johns Hopkins University
Mary Woolley
Northeast Ohio Medical University
The Rockefeller University
Stanley Center for Psychiatric Research, Broad Institute
University of California, Los Angeles |University of California, San Francisco
United Therapeutics Corporation
Van Andel Research Institute


American Association for Cancer Research
American Cancer Society
American Heart Association
Baylor College of Medicine Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences
FaegreBD Consulting
March of Dimes Foundation
Mary J. C. Hendrix, PhD and Chuck Craft
Society for Neuroscience
Takeda Pharmaceuticals America, Inc.
Washington University in St. Louis School of Medicine
Weill Cornell Medical College


To learn more about supporting the Advocacy Awards, contact Carol Kennedy, senior director, development and membership.  

Previous Awardees have included:

California Institute for Regenerative Medicine
    The Honorable Michael Bloomberg
David Baltimore, PhD*    Charlie Rose
The Honorable Barbara Mikulski    Mark L. Rosenberg, MD
J. Michael Bishop, MD*    David Satcher, MD, PhD
Sanjay Gupta, MD    Marlo Thomas
Diane Rehm    Al Hunt and Judy Woodruff
John Mendelsohn, MD    Glenn Close
Margaret Foti, PhD, MD (h.c.)    Leroy Hood, MD, PhD
Michael J. Fox    Reed V. Tuckson, MD
Progeria Research Foundation
    Kathy Giusti
The Honorable Tom Harkin    Representative Frank Wolf (R-Va.)
Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation    Representative Chaka Fattah (D-Pa.)
John F. Crowley, JD    *Nobel Laureate


Click here to view photos and highlights from Research!America's 2014 Advocacy Awards Dinner.