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2016 Advocacy Awards

Celebrating Leadership in Research Advocacy

“We need to preserve and promote our science—in all of its forms— because it represents the best of what we have been —and must continue to be —as a nation,” according to Nobel Laureate Harold Varmus, M.D., Lewis Thomas University professor, Weill Cornell Medicine, in remarks at Research!America’s 20th Annual Advocacy Awards Dinner.

Dr. Varmus received the Legacy Award at the event held March 16 at the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium in Washington, D.C. He joined other honorees for the program which celebrated exemplary leaders in medical and health research advocacy whose advocacy efforts have been notably effective in advancing our nation’s commitment to research.

Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Representative Tom Cole (R-OK) received the Edwin C. Whitehead Award for Medical Research Advocacy for their steadfast commitment to increasing investments in research to advance innovative studies focused on preventing and eradicating diseases that take a tremendous toll on families and the economy.

“The gratification of what we’ve been able to do in health research has been incredible,” said Senator Blunt. “Hopefully with your advocacy and my colleagues, we’ll step up once again and do things that allow this to become the norm rather than the exception,” he said referring to the $2 billion increase for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in FY16.

Chairman Cole talked about the importance of spending more money solving disease, rather than treating and managing it. “I don’t care if you’re Republican or Democrat, liberal or conservative– Alzheimer’s and cancer don’t pick people that way….everyone has a personal story,” he said.  Policymakers can work together in support of the NIH and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention even “in a very divided” and polarized time, he added.

Lisa Paulsen, president and CEO of the Entertainment Industry Foundation, accepted the Isadore Rosenfeld Award for Impact on Public Opinion on behalf of the organization which harnesses the collective power of Hollywood to raise awareness and funds for critical health, educational and social issues. When “nearly 600,000 Americans die of cancer every year,” we must “continue to work together to support research that is truly saving, and improving lives,” she said.

Robert Langer, Sc.D., David H. Koch Institute professor, MIT, who received the Raymond and Beverly Sackler Award for Sustained National Leadership, said his dream as a student to use his education and knowledge in chemical engineering to improve people’s health, led him to a lifelong career in research on cancer and other diseases.

Trish and George Vradenburg, co-founders of UsAgainstAlzheimer’s (UsA2), received the Gordon and Llura Gund Leadership Award. Mrs. Vradenburg shared the personal story of watching her mother succumb to Alzheimer’s disease. “While our sense of passion and urgency comes from a personal place, the growing prevalence and cost of this disease gives our mission a larger purpose,” Mr. Vradenburg added. “Together we must confront Alzheimer’s at a pace and scale equal to its challenge.”

The ALS Association received the Paul G. Rogers Distinguished Organization Advocacy Award. Barbara Newhouse, president and CEO of The ALS Association, who accepted the award said the ALS Association works “to find treatments and a cure for this disease through not only research but also advocacy and care services,” she said. Lorri Carey, a patient advocate with The ALS As

sociation, joined Newhouse on stage and thanked attendees for their advocacy and support for patients living with ALS.

John Noseworthy, M.D., was honored with the Geoffrey Beene Builders of Science Award for hisleadership to ensure Mayo Clinic remains a trusted resource for patients amid a rapidly changing health care environment.

Ronald Petersen, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Mayo Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center, accepted the award on Dr. Noseworthy’s behalf, noting that the Mayo Clinic is committed to meeting the unmet needs of patients through research.

Among the distinguished guests for the dinner: Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL); Representative Don Beyer (D-VA); Representative Bill Foster (D-IL); Barbara Barrett, former U.S. ambassador to Finland; Former Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman; Francis Collins, M.D., Ph.D., director, National Institutes of Health; Robert Califf, M.D., commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration; France Cordova, Ph.D., director of the National Science Foundation; Joe Selby, M.D., MPH, executive director of the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute; Carolyn Clancy, M.D., assistant deputy undersecretary for Health, Quality, Safety, and Value of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs; and Anthony Fauci, M.D., director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases; Elias Zerhouni, M.D., president, global R&D, at Sanofi; and Miss USA Olivia Jordan.

View videos of the awardees and visit our Flickr page to see a photo gallery of the evening. For a special insert of the 2016 Advocacy Awards dinner and honorees, click here

To see the list of our Honorary Chairs, click here.

For remarks from John Edward Porter, Research!America’s Board Chair, click here.

To view event details for our past Advocacy Awards dinners, please click here.

Dinner Host

Presenting Partner



Program Partners

Patron Sponsor








  • AdvaMed (Advanced Medical Technology Association)
  • Alzheimer’s Association
  • Battelle Memorial Institute
  • Biogen Inc.
  • Bristol-Myers Squibb
  • Celgene
  • CEO Initiative on Alzheimer’s Disease (CEOi)
  • FaegreBD Consulting
  • FasterCures, a center of the Milken Institute
  • Mayo Clinic
  • Northeast Ohio Medical University
  • The Rockefeller University
  • Shire
  • Society for Neuroscience
  • Takeda
  • Weill Cornell Medicine
  • Mary Woolley
  • Friends
  • AcademyHealth
  • Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation
  • American Association for the Advancement of Science
  • American Association for Cancer Research
  • American Cancer Society, Inc.
  • American Heart Association
  • Hogan Lovells
  • Johns Hopkins University & Medicine
  • March of Dimes
  • Spectrum Science Communications
  • The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
  • Van Andel Research Institute
  • Washington University in St. Louis – School of Medicine

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. We recognize individuals and organizations whose leadership efforts have been notably effective in advancing our nation’s commitment to research. A list of our past Advocacy Award winners is available here. To learn more about supporting the Advocacy Awards, contact Thayer Surette at tsurette@researchamerica.org.