Former Vice President Joe Biden Among the Honorees at Research!America’s 21st Annual Advocacy Awards Dinner

Jennifer Santisi

“We are on the cusp of a major breakthrough in medical progress, this is not a time to let up, it’s a time to redouble our efforts,” said Joe Biden, 47th Vice President of the United States, in his remarks at Research!America’s 21st Advocacy Awards Dinner on March 15. “We can make sure many more chronic diseases don’t cost you your life, but only if we break down barriers. I see the day a patient is given the right therapy the first time when they are diagnosed. I see the day when prevention is more effective, and where care is personalized and more effective with less side effects.” 

Former Vice President Biden received the Gordon and Llura Gund Leadership Award for his commitment to accelerating cancer research as the driving force behind the White House Cancer Moonshot. He joined other outstanding advocates for research that evening, whose contributions to health and medicine have saved lives and improved quality of life for patients worldwide.

“Congress has been a little slow on finding areas they can agree on, but one thing we can agree on is the importance of biomedical research,” said Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) in a video acceptance speech. He was the recipient of the Edwin C. Whitehead Award for Medical Research Advocacy for his longstanding commitment to research and innovation.

Senator Alexander was instrumental in congressional passage of the 21st Century Cures Act. “This bipartisan law will help virtually every American family by taking advantage of breathtaking advances in medical research and bringing those safe innovations to doctors’ offices and patient’s medical cabinets more rapidly,” he said.

Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, who has worked tirelessly  to prevent, diagnose, and treat infectious and immune-mediated diseases, received the Legacy Award in recognition of his accomplishments. “I’m sincerely grateful for having been given the opportunity to pursue a career in basic and clinical research at the NIH,” he said.

Dr. Fauci has advised every Administration since President Reagan on a myriad of public health threats from AIDS to Ebola to Zika, and he remains confident that the research community can meet continued public health challenges: “The common denominator of these efforts is that it all started with fundamental basic biomedical research that paved the way for the translation of discoveries to meaningful advances and even solutions to some of these formidable health challenges.”

Award-winning actress Kathy Bates, Lymphatic Education & Research Network (LE&RN) spokesperson, emphasized the importance of increased federal funding for research, particularly for the National Institutes of Health. “I don’t plead for this funding for myself, but for the invisible millions standing behind me tonight and I accept this extraordinary award on their behalf,” she said.

Bates, who was diagnosed with lymphedema, received the Isadore Rosenfeld Award for Impact on Public Opinion for raising the visibility of lymphedema and lymphatic diseases and advocating tirelessly on behalf of the patient community.

Leland H. Hartwell, Ph.D., Nobel Laureate and director of the Pathfinder Center at Arizona State University’s Biodesign Institute and Virginia G. Piper Chair of Personalized Medicine, described how an institution’s culture can make a difference in fostering innovative research. “I realize how fortunate I have been through my career to have been at a number of excellent institutions that supported research and I realize that the values that the culture brings in those institutions goes back often to the founders and their values.”  He said the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center is an institution that supports great science through its culture and values. Dr. Hartwell received the Geoffrey Beene Builders of Science Award for his leadership in building an outstanding scientific research organization as president and director of the Cancer Research Center.

“Across the country and in federal initiatives like the BRAIN Initiatives and the Cancer Moonshot, convergence of engineering, physical and computer science with life science research is becoming an increasingly high priority,” said Phillip A. Sharp, Ph.D., Nobel Laureate and Institute Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the recipient of the Raymond and Beverly Sackler Award for Sustained National Leadership.

The Lupus Foundation of America received the Paul G. Rogers Distinguished Organization Advocacy Award in recognition of the Foundation’s leadership for lupus research, patient and professional education, and public awareness. Susan Manzi, M.D., MPH, co-founder and director of the Lupus Center of Excellence, accepted and discussed the initiatives the Foundation has undertaken to raise awareness and funding for lupus research.  

Allie Gutshall, patient advocate and volunteer for The Lupus Foundation of America, shared her personal story of perserverance after being diagnosed with lupus while in college. “My purpose is now to advocate for others who can’t advocate for themselves,” she said. 

For more photos from the event, please visit our Flickr page

For the keynote address from Research!America's Chair Emeritus, click here

Jennifer Santisi is Research!America's Senior Manager of Communications. 

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Without continued support for health research, many of the most promising young scientists, their ideas and a myriad of potentially life-changing scientific breakthroughs will vanish into oblivion.
Paul Marinec, PhD; University of California San Francisco