Advocacy Awards

25th Anniversary Advocacy Awards

Event Date: April 2021

Thank you for your nominations for the 25th anniversary Research!America Advocacy Awards! 

The 2021 event will mark the 25th anniversary of the Research!America Advocacy Awards and offers an unprecedented opportunity at an unprecedented time to acknowledge and honor the powerful research and innovation deployed in the fight against COVID-19. 

This year, the 25th Anniversary Advocacy Awards will have two major components. First, Research!America will honor the 2020 awardees we were unable to salute in March 2020, due to restrictions caused by COVID-19. The 2020 awardees are distinguished luminaries in government, patient advocacy, scientific societies, independent research institutes, industry, and academia widely known for their contributions to cutting-edge research, public health, legislative achievements, and much more. Meet the 2020 awardees below (no additional nominations will be accepted for the 2020 awards).

Second, as a very special component of the 25th anniversary event, Research!America will recognize the extraordinary work and enormous contributions in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic through a special set of honors called the Outstanding Achievement in Public Health Awards. The four Outstanding Achievement in Public Health Awards will honor individuals, entities, or partnerships demonstrating commitment to research through discovery, innovation, public communication, and leadership. See descriptions of the four awards

The 2021 event, presented virtually, will be high-energy, engaging, inspiring, and filled with current and future pivotal leaders. The program will feature a mix of interviews, fireside chats, and Q&A sessions to introduce and honor the 2020 and 2021 Awardees.

2020 Honorees

These honorees will be recognized in April 2021.

Dr. Bruce Alberts, the recipient of the 2020 John Edward Porter Legacy Award, generously supported by Ann Lurie, is a prominent biochemist with a strong commitment to the improvement of science and mathematics education. He is now the Chancellor’s Leadership Chair in Biochemistry and Biophysics for Science and Education at the University of California, San Francisco, to which he returned after serving two six-year terms as the president of NAS. Widely recognized for his work in the fields of biochemistry and molecular biology, Dr. Alberts has earned many honors and awards, including 16 honorary degrees. He currently serves on the advisory boards of more than 25 nonprofit institutions, including the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

During his tenure at the NAS, Dr. Alberts was instrumental in developing the landmark National Science Education Standards that have been implemented in school systems nationwide. The type of “science as inquiry” emphasizes logical, hands-on problem solving, and it insists on having evidence for claims that can be confirmed by others. It requires work in cooperative groups – developing self-confidence and an ability to communicate effectively with others. Dr. Alberts is also noted as one of the original authors of "The Molecular Biology of the Cell," a preeminent textbook in the field soon to be in its sixth edition. From 2000 to 2009, he served as the co-chair of the InterAcademy Council, a new organization in Amsterdam governed by the presidents of 15 national academies of sciences and established to provide scientific advice to the world.

Renée Fleming is the artistic advisor-at-large to The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. She spearheads the Sound Health Initiative, a collaboration with the National Institutes of Health in association with the National Endowment for the Arts. The initiative works to enhance the potential for music as therapy for neurological disorders, identifies future opportunities for research, and creates public awareness about how the brain functions and interacts with music. As part of the project, Fleming spent two hours in a fMRI scanner, singing, speaking, and imagining a tune so researchers could explore how the brain is activated in those three situations.

As a creative contribution to the Sound Health Initiative, Ms. Fleming created a presentation called Music and the Mind. Designed for a general audience, Music and the Mind celebrates the power of music as it relates to health and the brain. Topics include childhood development, music therapy, and cognitive neuroscience. Since September 2017, Ms. Fleming has presented Music and the Mind in over 30 cities across North America, Europe, and Asia.

As part of these presentations, Ms. Fleming invites experts around the country to present their research and discuss their findings. She also showcases the evolutionary role music has played in creating community, as well as case studies and individual stories of how music has changed lives. As she travels, she collaborates with leading neuroscientists, researchers, and music therapists with the goal of bringing new information to audiences who are fans of her music. With her work at the intersection of music and medicine, she strives to improve public awareness, as she advocates for additional research on music, the brain, and wellness.

Renée Fleming is one of the most highly acclaimed singers of our time. In 2013, President Obama awarded her America's highest honor for an artist, the National Medal of Arts. Other awards include Germany’s Cross of the Order of Merit, the Fulbright Lifetime Achievement Award, Sweden’s Polar Music Prize, the Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur from the French government, Honorary Membership in the Royal Academy of Music, and honorary doctorates from Northwestern University, the University of Pennsylvania, Harvard University, Duke University, Carnegie Mellon University, the Eastman School of Music, and The Juilliard School.


Dr. Myron “Mike” Levineco-recipient of the Geoffrey Beene Foundation Builders of Science Award, is the Simon and Bessie Grollman Distinguished Professor at the University of Maryland School of Medicine (UMSoM), the associate dean for Global Health, Vaccinology and Infectious Diseases, and founder of the Center for Vaccine Development (CVD). He was elected to the National Academy of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences (formally the Institute of Medicine) in 1995. Dr. Levine has worked on vaccine research since 1970 and is a pioneer of the discipline of “vaccinology.” After founding CVD in 1974, he served as director until 2015. He oriented CVD to fill the niche of developing vaccines to prevent certain infections that have enormous disease burdens in impoverished populations and developing countries but cause little burden in the U.S. and other industrialized countries. This includes research to develop vaccines against intestinal infections such as cholera, Shigella dysentery, typhoid fever, and non-typhoidal Salmonella infections. He has spent considerable time working in developing countries on the epidemiology and prevention of enteric infections. His 50-year research career has covered basic vaccine development, clinical trials (safety, immunogenicity, and efficacy), and impact following vaccine introduction. He has trained vaccine researchers globally.  

Dr. Gary Nabel, co-recipient of the Geoffrey Beene Foundation Builders of Science Award, is the chief scientific officer of Sanofi where he provides oversight of Global R&D programs. An eminent virologist and immunologist, Dr. Nabel served as founding director of NIH’s Vaccine Research Center (VRC) and its leader for 14 years (1999-2012). Dr. Nabel pioneered a renaissance in vaccine development through structure-based rational vaccine design. Under his leadership, the VRC made seminal advances in developing vaccines and broadly neutralizing antibodies not only against HIV but also universal influenza, Ebola, Chikungunya, and Epstein-Barr virus. His work encompasses basic mechanisms of viral molecular biology, protein structure, and immunotherapy, defining modes of immune escape, and opportunities to attack critical vulnerabilities of viruses. This work led to the discovery of the broadly neutralizing antibodies to the highly conserved CD4 binding site of HIV that are now in human efficacy trials in Africa. Through an experimental medicine program, the VRC translated scientific discovery into clinical investigation through more than 100 clinical trials, including universal influenza vaccines in the U.S. and leading to Ebola vaccines tested in Africa. Dr. Nabel’s work has also contributed to the development of countermeasures for other emerging viral infections, including Chikungunya virus, encephalitis viruses, SARS, avian influenza, and Zika virus. 

More recently, Dr. Nabel and his team have developed a novel antibody platform that can recognize three targets at once, called tri-specific antibodies, now under evaluation for the treatment and prevention of HIV and cancer. Dr. Nabel has been the chief scientific officer & senior vice president at Sanofi since 2012 and previously was an investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute at the University of Michigan (1987-1999).

Dr. Paul Offit, co-recipient of the Geoffrey Beene Foundation Builders of Science Award, was elected to the National Academy of Medicine in 2011. He currently serves as the director of the Vaccine Education Center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia as well as the Maurice R. Hilleman Professor of Vaccinology and a professor of pediatrics at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. In 2015, he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 2018, Dr. Offit received the Gold Medal from the Sabin Vaccine Institute. Dr. Offit has published more than 160 papers in medical and scientific journals and is the co-inventor of the rotavirus vaccine, RotaTeq, recommended for universal use in infants by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

In 2009, Dr. Offit received the President’s Certificate for Outstanding Service from the American Academy of Pediatrics. In 2013, Dr. Offit received the Maxwell Finland award for Outstanding Scientific Achievement from the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases and the Distinguished Alumnus award from UMSoM. Dr. Offit was a member of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices to the CDC and is a founding advisory board member of the Autism Science Foundation and the Foundation for Vaccine Research. 

Michael M. E. Johns, MDrecipient of the Herbert Pardes Family Award for National Leadership in Advocacy for Research, is an internationally recognized leader in academic medicine, health policy, and as a head and neck cancer surgeon. He currently serves as a professor in the Schools of Medicine and Public Health at Emory University. Elected to the National Academy of Medicine in 1993, he is executive vice president for Health Affairs Emeritus at Emory University, and president, CEO, and chairman of the Board Emeritus of Emory Healthcare – positions he held at Emory from 1996 to 2007. He also served as Emory’s chancellor from 2007 to 2012. Prior to his work at Emory, he was vice president of the Medical Faculty and dean of the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. He recently served as interim executive vice president for Medical Affairs at the University of Michigan from June 2014 through February 2015. 

In addition to leading complex administrative and academic organizations to new levels of excellence and service, Dr. Johns is widely renowned as a catalyst for new thinking in many areas of health policy and health professions education. He has been a significant contributor to many of the leading organizations and policy groups in health care, including the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC). He frequently lectures, publishes, and works with state and federal policymakers on topics ranging from the future of health professions education to national health system reform. Throughout his distinguished career, Dr. Johns has been the recipient of numerous honors and awards. Most recently, in December 2016, he received an honorary Doctor of Science from his alma mater, the University of Michigan. In 2015, Dr. Johns received the Castle Connolly Lifetime Achievement Award, which is presented to physicians for their lifetime of dedication to research and practice in their respective specialties.

Mary Fogarty McAndrew, the recipient of the Gordon and Llura Gund Leadership Award, is the daughter of the late Congressman John E. Fogarty of Rhode Island, also known as “Mr. Public Health.” As chair of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health, Education and Welfare, he championed funding for public health. Since his sudden death in 1967, Mary has carried his torch in her work as an ardent advocate of better health, domestically and around the globe, supporting the efforts of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). President Lyndon B. Johnson signed a bill which established the John E. Fogarty International Center for Advanced Study in the Health Sciences at NIH. The Center began with a budget of $500,000 in 1968 and has grown to over $75 million today. It supports over 5,000 scientists in more than 100 countries throughout the world. McAndrew chairs the John E. Fogarty Foundation for Persons with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. 

The National Multiple Sclerosis Society, the recipient of the Paul G. Rogers Distinguished Organization Advocacy Award, was founded in 1946 and funds cutting-edge research, drives change through advocacy, and provides programs and services to help people affected by Multiple Sclerosis (MS) live their best lives. The Society supports research and treatment to stop disease progression, restore function, and end MS forever. Nearly one million people in the United States — more than twice the previously reported number — are living with MS, according to a landmark study. Through its advocacy work, the Society creates opportunities for people affected by MS to raise their voices, let policymakers know what they need, and drive change at the federal, state, and local levels to improve lives. 










American Association for Cancer Research

American Cancer Society

American Heart Association

Faegre Drinker

Friends of the National MS Society

The George Washington University School of Medicine & Health Sciences

Mary Hendrix and Chuck Craft

Mary Fogarty McAndrew and Thomas J. McAndrew

Michigan Medicine

Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI)

UMB School of Medicine, Center for Vaccine Development and Global Health

University of California, San Francisco

University of Maryland, School of Medicine


Vanderbilt University Medical Center


Woodruff Health Sciences Center of Emory University

Mary Woolley


*as of March 4, 2020

Research!America's Advocacy Awards

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 Katie Goode at

Media Contacts

Robert Shalett
Director of Communications 

Without continued support for health research, many of the most promising young scientists, their ideas and a myriad of potentially life-changing scientific breakthroughs will vanish into oblivion.
Paul Marinec, PhD; University of California San Francisco