Advocacy Awards Dinner

Research!America’s 2019 Advocacy Awards Dinner

See photos from the event on our Flickr page.


A Washington tradition, the annual Research!America Advocacy Awards Dinner brings together distinguished supporters of medical, health and scientific research to honor outstanding, notably effective leaders of research advocacy. Please join us for an evening of celebration as Research!America marks its 30th anniversary as an alliance dedicated to advocating for science, discovery, and innovation to achieve better health for all. Click here to see a list of honorary chairs.



March 13, 2019

Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium 

1301 Constitution Avenue, NW 

Washington, D.C. 20240 

Grand Reception: 5:45 PM

Dinner: 6:30 PM

Contact with questions. 

Esteemed leaders in medical and health research advocacy whose commitment to scientific progress has transformed the lives of individuals worldwide will be honored at Research!America's Advocacy Awards Dinner on March 13, 2019 at the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium. At the dinner, Research!America will also celebrate its 30th anniversary as an alliance dedicated to making research to improve health a higher national priority.

Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) and Representative Nita M. Lowey have each been selected to receive the Edwin C. Whitehead Award for Medical Research Advocacy for their pivotal roles in improving the lives of Americans through health research.

Senator Shelby has served as Chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriations since 2017. As Chairman and throughout his tenure in the Senate, he has made investment in fast-paced medical progress a top priority. Senator Shelby has played a pivotal role in securing funding increases for the National Science Foundation (NSF), which supports the broad array of science and engineering disciplines contributing to U.S. R&D leadership. He was first elected to the Senate in 1986 and is currently in his sixth term. Prior to his election in the United States Senate, Senator Shelby served four terms in the U.S. House of Representatives and eight years in the Alabama legislature.




Congresswoman Nita M. Lowey became Chair of the House Appropriations Committee beginning in January with the current Congress, the first woman from either party to do so. Currently in her sixteenth term in Congress, she has leveraged her tenure on the Appropriations Committee to advocate successfully for medical and public health research. As a leader in women’s health, she authored the Breast Cancer and Environmental Research Act to increase research on the links between breast cancer and the environment. Congresswoman Lowey also worked to ensure clinical trials at National Institutes of Health included females to understand gender differences in benefits and risks of medications and treatments. She is a strong supporter of the Center for Disease Control’s WISEWOMAN services that screen women for heart disease, stroke and other cardiovascular disease, the leading cause of death among women.



The Honorable Louis W. Sullivan, former Secretary, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and founding dean and president emeritus of the Morehouse School of Medicine, will be among the honorees. He will receive the 2019 John Edward Porter Legacy Award, generously supported by Ann Lurie. Dr. Sullivan, chairman of the board of the National Health Museum in Atlanta, Georgia, is internationally known for his efforts to improve the health and health behavior of Americans and raising scholarship funds in the U.S. and South Africa for black health professions students. Dr. Sullivan became the founding dean and director of the Medical Education Program at Morehouse College in 1975.  He accepted an appointment by President George H.W. Bush to serve as secretary of HHS in 1989. In this cabinet position, Dr. Sullivan managed the federal agency responsible for the major health, welfare, food and drug safety, medical research and income security programs serving the American people.


Dr. Susan Hockfield, President Emerita, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Professor of Neuroscience and member of the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research, will be the recipient of the Geoffrey Beene Foundation Builders of Science Award. Dr. Hockfield served from 2004 to 2012 as the sixteenth president of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the first life scientist and first woman in that role. As president, Dr. Hockfield strengthened the foundations of MIT’s finances and campus planning while advancing Institute-wide programs in sustainable energy and the convergence of the life, physical and engineering sciences. She is chairman of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. 



Dr. David R. Williams, Florence Sprague Norman and Laura Smart Norman Professor of Public Health, Chair of the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and Professor of African and African American Studies and Sociology at Harvard University, will receive the Herbert Pardes Family Award for National Leadership in Advocacy for Research. Previously, he served 6 years on the faculty of Yale University and 14 at the University of Michigan. He holds an MPH from Loma Linda University and a Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Michigan. Dr. Williams is an internationally recognized social scientist focused on social influences on health. Dr. Williams has played a visible, national leadership role in raising awareness levels of the problem of health disparities and identifying interventions to address them. 



Denny Sanford, health care philanthropist and longtime supporter of Sanford Health and its Sanford Research arm in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, will be the recipient of the Gordon and Llura Gund Leadership Award. Mr. Sanford’s initial focus was to help sick, disadvantaged, abused and neglected children. Since an initial donation of $16 million in 2004 to build the Sanford Children’s Castle of Care Hospital in Sioux Falls, he has given nearly $1 billion to what is now Sanford Health, a non-profit integrated health care system, which includes Sanford Research. Sanford Health’s major initiatives include finding a cure for type 1 diabetes and developing clinics worldwide. Part of Mr. Sanford’s gifts funded the Edith Sanford Breast Center, in honor of his mother. He has also been a longtime supporter of the Children’s Home Society in South Dakota.



Siddhartha Mukherjee, MD, DPhil, physician, oncologist, and author, will receive the Isadore Rosenfeld Award for Impact on Public Opinion. Dr. Mukherjee is an Assistant Professor of Medicine at Columbia University Medical Center and is widely known for his books, The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer, which earned him the 2011 Pulitzer Prize, and The Gene: An Intimate HistoryThe Emperor of All Maladies has been adapted into a documentary by filmmaker Ken Burns, and was included among Time magazine’s 100 best nonfiction books of the past century. Dr. Mukherjee’s achievements as a writer and educator build upon his career as a renowned medical scholar.  His groundbreaking studies into the composition and behavior of cancer cells have pushed the boundaries of modern medicine.  His innovative research signals a paradigm shift in cancer pathology, and has enabled the development of treatments that reach beyond current pharmaceutical models toward new biological and cellular therapies.



The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation will recieve the Paul G. Rogers Distinguished Organization Advocacy Award. The mission of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation is to cure cystic fibrosis and to provide all people with the disease the opportunity to lead full, productive lives by funding research and drug development, promoting individualized treatment, and ensuring access to high-quality, specialized care. The CF Foundation is the world’s leader in the search for a cure for cystic fibrosis and funds more CF research than any other organization. Nearly every CF-specific drug available today was made possible because of CF Foundation support. 


For more information about the dinner and awardees, read the press release. For more information about past Advocacy Awards, click here. 



2019 Advocacy Award Sponsors



future innovators sponsor

Program Partners
















AAAS – American Association for the Advancement of Science                 



Alzheimer’s Association

American Association for Cancer Research

American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy

American Cancer Society

American Heart Association

Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine

Charles Craft and Mary Hendrix

Emergent BioSolutions

Faegre Baker Daniels Consulting

The George Washington University School of Medicine & Health Sciences

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Morehouse School of Medicine

Sanford Health

UC San Diego – Sanford Consortium of Regenerative Medicine – Sanford Burham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute

University of California, San Francisco

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. To learn more about supporting the Advocacy Awards, contact Thayer Surette at


Media Contacts

Terri Schwartzbeck
Senior Manager of Communications 

We have health challenges in this country that science will provide answers for if given the chance and we haven't given science that opportunity
Mary Woolley, President and CEO, Research!America