Research!America to Honor Reps. Fred Upton and Diana DeGette with Edwin C. Whitehead Award for Leadership in Advancing Medical Research and Innovation

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Reps. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) have been selected to receive Research!America's Edwin C. Whitehead Award for Medical Research Advocacy for their commitment to advancing the discovery, development and delivery of lifesaving medical treatments. Reps. Upton and DeGette's 21st Century Cures initiative, which epitomizes for both members of Congress a long record of leadership support for medical progress, is designed to accelerate the pace of medical breakthroughs and help ensure that the U.S. maintains its preeminence in science and innovation.

"Representatives Upton and DeGette are remarkable stewards of our nation's research infrastructure, pushing boundaries to advance scientific knowledge and improve regulatory policies in order to speed medical advances to patients," said Research!America Chair John Edward Porter. "They work in a bipartisan manner to take on the urgent and monumental task of addressing barriers to innovation, an absolute necessity if we want to accelerate progress against deadly and disabling diseases." 

The landmark 21st Century Cures initiative aims to speed up the development of new treatments by integrating the patient's perspective into the regulatory process, modernizing clinical trials, fostering the future of science, investing in research, incentivizing the development of new drugs and devices for unmet medical needs and facilitating data sharing and the use of new technologies.

"The 21st Century Cures initiative has relied on thoughtful feedback and support from groups like Research!America," said Rep. Upton. "My Democratic partner in this effort, Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.), and I have been so encouraged by the outpouring of ideas and look forward to taking the next step in seeing those ideas become a reality. There are currently over 7,000 diseases yet we only have cures for 500 of them. This is unacceptable. By working together, our path to faster cures is clearer than ever."

"Our future is brimming with potential discoveries if we are willing to work to find them," said Rep. DeGette. "Biomedical research discoveries transform lives, so we must ensure researchers have adequate resources and an environment that delivers breakthroughs to patients. I am so grateful to have a passionate and dedicated partner in Congressman Upton who is committed to finding bipartisan ways to make biomedical research even better."                                          

Upton is the chair of the Energy and Commerce Committee, and serves on all six of its subcommittees. Under his leadership, the FDA User Fee Corrections Act of 2012, the agency's user fee program for prescription drugs and medical devices, was successfully reauthorized and signed into law, bringing lifesaving treatments to patients faster while fostering patient safety. Chairman Upton's long-standing leadership in the medical research arena includes playing a significant role in the doubling of the NIH budget between 1998-2003.

In addition to co-leading the 21st Century Cures initiative, DeGette's many contributions to medical innovation include her pivotal role in advancing stem cell research. She introduced the Stem Cell Research Advancement Act of 2013, bipartisan legislation to support research that utilizes human stem cells, including human embryonic stem cells. DeGette is ranking member of the Energy and Commerce Oversight and Investigations subcommittee and a member of the E&C Environment and the Economy and Communications and Technology subcommittees.

Reps. Upton and DeGette will be saluted at Research!America's 2015 Advocacy Awards dinner on Wednesday, March 11, in Washington, D.C. The program honors outstanding individuals and organizations in advocacy for medical, health and scientific research. The Whitehead Award, named in honor of Research!America's founder, Edwin C. "Jack" Whitehead, recognizes exemplary leaders, particularly those in public office, who have demonstrated a deep commitment to advancing medical and health research as a national priority and who galvanize others in support of science.

Other 2015 Advocacy Award winners include 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.

About Research!America's Advocacy Awards Dinner

The annual Research!America Advocacy Awards program was established in 1996 by the Board of Directors to honor outstanding advocates for medical, health and scientific research. Recognized individuals and organizations are those whose extraordinary leadership efforts have been effective in advancing our nation's commitment to medical, health and other scientific research. This year the awards event will take place on March 11, 2015, at the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium in Washington, D.C. For more information, visit www.researchamerica.org/advocacy_awards.

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You can change the image of things to come. But you can’t do it sitting on your hands … The science community should reach out to Congress and build bridges.
The Honorable John E. Porter