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2018 Advocacy Awards

Research!America Advocacy Award Honorees Call for Increased Investments in Medical Research at Annual Awards Dinner

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Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) says she has witnessed the power of medical research to transform lives. In remarks at Research!America’s Advocacy Awards Dinner, she described how advances in research dramatically improved the quality of life of a young diabetes patient. “Dr. Jonas Salk, who developed one of the first effective polio vaccines, once said, ‘hope lies and dreams in imagination and courage of those who dared to make dreams into reality,’ she said. “There’s no investment that promises greater returns for Americans than our investments in biomedical research.” Sen. Collins received the Edwin C. Whitehead Award for Medical Research Advocacy for her leadership in advancing medical research, particularly Alzheimer’s disease and diabetes research, at the dinner held Wednesday, March 14 in Washington, D.C.


Research!America Chair Emeritus The Honorable John Edward Porter, recipient of the Legacy Award, noted that science is too often ignored by the public and policymakers. “What worries me most today is that we have learned how to make progress with evidence-based decision-making and yet many of our fellow citizens reject this,” he said. The award has been renamed in his honor.




Dr. Peter Hotez, who was honored with the Research!America Advocacy Award for Sustained National Leadership, discussed challenges with creating a sense of urgency about neglected tropical diseases (NTDs). “We now estimate that there are 12 million Americans living in extreme poverty infected with NTDs and this has been one of the hardest advocacy efforts of all – making people care about the poor and disenfranchised right here at home.”




Other honorees included Shari and Garen Staglin, who received the Gordon and Llura Gund Leadership Award for their efforts in brain disorder research advocacy. “Mental illness is the biggest unmet need in America,” said Garen. “As a country, we spend less than $8 billion on mental illness research…this is a national emergency.”



Dr. Atul Gawande, bestselling author and professor at Harvard Medical School, received the Isadore Rosenfeld Award for Impact on Public Opinion for raising public awareness about the standard of health care. “In 1900, the average American lived only into their 40s,” he said. “Thanks to a century of incredible discovery, we now get to live, if we receive a regular source of care and access to treatments and medications, into our 80s on average.”



The Paul G. Rogers Distinguished Organization Advocacy Award was presented to The EveryLife Foundation for Rare Diseases. Emil Kakkis, founder and board member of the Foundation, and Max Schill, patient advocate, accepted the award on the Foundation’s behalf. Patient advocate Max Schill told the audience, “Rare is not really rare. There are over 7,000 diseases affecting 30 million Americans, 95% of them don’t have treatments.”



Dr. Roger Glass received the Geoffrey Beene Builders of Science Award for his leadership as director of the Fogarty International Center at the National Institutes of Health. “Research,” he said, “at this time of exponential growth in science, technology and innovation, deserves—indeed, demands—increased investments from the public if we are to maintain U.S. leadership in science while creating jobs, stimulating the economy, and improving human health at home and abroad.”













  • AAAS- American Association for the Advancement of Science
  • AcademyHealth
  • AdvaMed
  • Alzheimer’s Association
  • American Association for Cancer Research
  • American Cancer Society
  • American Heart Association
  • Battelle
  • Baylor College of Medicine
  • Celgene
  • Children’s National
  • Charles Craft and Mary Hendrix
  • EXLService
  • Faegre Baker Daniels Consulting
  • Family of John Porter
  • Hogan Lovells
  • Emil and Jenny Kakkis on behalf of the EveryLife Foundation
  • Northeast Ohio Medical University
  • Northwestern University
  • Rockefeller University
  • Society for Neuroscience
  • Stanley Center for Psychiatric Research at the Broad Institute
  • UsAgainstAlzheimer’s
  • University of California, San Francisco
  • Washington University in St. Louis
  • Mary Woolley

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.