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Meet the Honoree: Mary Fogarty McAndrew, Recipient of the Gordon and Llura Gund Leadership Award

As Research!America prepares for our 24th Advocacy Awards Dinner, we want readers to learn more about our award recipients. We are continuing our Tuesday series leading up to the March 11 event. Please meet Mary Fogarty McAndrew, recipient of the Gordon and Llura Gund Leadership Award.

Mary Fogarty McAndrew

Chair, John E. Fogarty Foundation for Persons with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities


When did you know you were an advocate for scientific research and innovation?

I watched my Dad work for 16 years as Chairman of the House Appropriations Sub-Committee then known as Labor, Health, Education and Welfare, with his ranking member and dear friend, Melvin Laird, as they worked together to grow the NIH from its humble beginnings to the preeminent biomedical research facility in the world. The NIH budget went from $3.5 million in 1946 to $1.5 billion at the time of my Dad’s death in his office at the age of 53 in 1967. My Dad and Mel worked with James Shannon, MD, Director of the NIH, Lawrence Rockefeller, Benno Schmidt, Mary Lasker, Michael DeBakey, MD, Paul Dudley White, MD, Sydney Farber, MD, and many others to provide the rationale to support significant increases in bio-medical research. The NIH budget today is close to $40 billion dollars.

So, I feel fortunate to be carrying on the tremendous work of my father in this area of medical and health research. He continues to guide me in our advocacy work!

If you weren’t in your current field, what would you be doing?

I would probably have pursued something in the political arena.

What do you consider your biggest career accomplishment? What do others consider your biggest career accomplishment?

I think the biggest accomplishment to date has been highlighting the importance of global health and the work of the Fogarty International Center (FIC). As our world becomes smaller and smaller, the issue of global health only continues to grow. We had great support in this effort in the House with Chairs Rosa DeLauro and Tom Cole and in the Senate with Chairs Roy Blunt and Patty Murray.

I’ve learned the most from…

I have learned the most by observing my Dad and his dear friend Mel Laird as they worked together on their House Appropriations Subcommittee in a bipartisan manner to improve the health and welfare of all. Our current Appropriations SubCommittee Chair people in the House and Senate do the same. As my Dad said, “There are no politics in this committee because these departments affect every human being in our country.”

What advice would you give to your 20-year-old self?

Don’t get discouraged. If an issue or a problem arises see it as an opportunity to work for meaningful change in an environment of respect and dignity:

“As we limit the span of uncertainty in the cause of death and illness and extend and enrich the span of life, we act in the highest ideal of government, in the service of the governed, and in the best tradition of public, private, and individual enterprise.” -John E. Fogarty, Lasker Awards Ceremony 1959