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Research!America to Honor Sens. Murray and Cassidy for Their Support of Research

Research!America announced today that U.S. Sens. Patty Murray (D-Wash) and Bill Cassidy, MD, (R-La.) have each been selected to receive the Edwin C. Whitehead Award for Medical Research Advocacy for their extraordinary contributions to strengthening our nation’s research capabilities and advancing medical progress.  They will be honored at Research!America’s 2024 Advocacy Awards on March 13 in Washington, D.C.

“Sens. Murray and Cassidy are genuine leaders who, by their actions, and example have elevated basic science, medical research, biomedical research, and progress for patients to the highest of U.S. priorities,” said Research!America Board Chairman, Sudip Parikh, PhD. “Their positive impact on our nation’s research capabilities, competitiveness, and healthcare sets an extraordinarily high standard for policymakers today and tomorrow.”

The Edwin C. Whitehead Award, named in honor of Research!America founder Edwin C. “Jack” Whitehead, recognizes exemplary leaders, particularly those in public office, who have demonstrated a deep commitment to advancing medical and health research as a national priority and who galvanize others in support of science. The Edwin C. Whitehead Award for Medical Research Advocacy is generously supported by the Whitehead Charitable Foundation and the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research.

“Sens. Murray and Cassidy do not wait for positive change, they affect it,” said Research!America President and CEO Mary Woolley.  “Our nation, its people, and the global community have benefited from their unstinting commitment to research for health.”

The Honorable Patty Murray is a longstanding and vocal champion for robust investment in medical and health research. Senator Murray (D-WA) is a 30-year veteran of the Senate and has been a member of Democratic Leadership since 2007. Senator Murray has served on the Senate Appropriations committee since she first arrived in the Senate and became its Chair at the beginning of the 118th Congress. Throughout her tenure, Senator Murray has promoted robust funding growth in NIH, including the Institutes’ doubling between 1999 and 2003 and supplemental funding in numerous emergency spending measures.

Senator Murray has also sat on the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) committee since 2007, serving as Ranking Member from 2015-2021 and Chair from 2021-2023. During her service as Chair of the Senate HELP committee, Senator Murray served as lead Senate sponsor of and helped shepherd numerous research-relevant bills into law, including the landmark 21st Century Cures Act, the ARPA-H Act, and the PREVENT Pandemics Act.

“This is a huge honor, and I am humbled to receive the Edwin C. Whitehead Award for Medical Research Advocacy,” Murray said. “I understand how our investments in research matter, and that’s why I have worked for years to increase funding for the NIH, CDC, and NSF.”

The Honorable Bill Cassidy (R-LA) has represented the state of Louisiana, first as a congressman and then as a senator, since 2009. Senator Cassidy is a trained gastroenterologist, who practiced medicine for more than 20 years before entering politics.

The first physician to serve as Ranking Member of the Senate HELP Committee since 1933, Sen. Cassidy has demonstrated an extraordinarily strong commitment to strengthening our nation’s research and innovation ecosystem. He played an influential role in the recent confirmation of Dr. Monica Bertagnolli as the Director of NIH after nearly two years without a permanent director.

Senator Cassidy is working with HELP Committee Chair Bernie Sanders (D-VT) to strengthen our nation’s biodefense and pandemic preparedness capabilities through reauthorization of the Pandemics and All-Hazards Preparedness Act (PAHPA). He has sponsored numerous other pieces of legislation aimed at leveraging research and public health to accelerate life-saving progress, including legislation to advance mental health, combat the opioid crisis, and address sepsis.

“As a physician and a senator, improving medical research is crucial to creating new innovative treatments that save lives,” said Dr. Cassidy. “Honored to receive this recognition and look forward to continuing our efforts in Congress to improve Americans’ health care.”

2024 Advocacy Awards 

Now in its 28th year, Research!America’s annual Advocacy Awards program honors outstanding individuals and organizations in advocacy for medical, health, and scientific research. To see the full list of 2024 Advocacy Award honorees and the benefactors whose generous support make this upcoming event possible, please visit our site.

Contact Glenn O’Neal, Senior Director of Communications, at 571-482-2737 or goneal@researchamerica.org with press inquiries.