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Research!America to Recognize Dr. Tabak and Other Leaders in Medical and Health Research

The 27th Annual Advocacy Awards will be presented in March 2023 

Lawrence A. Tabak, DDS, PhD, will be honored with the John Edward Porter Legacy Award, generously supported by Ann Lurie. The award honors individuals who show outstanding commitment to sustaining the nation’s world-class leadership in medical and health research. 

Dr. Tabak has been a long-time leader at the National Institutes of Health, currently performing the duties of the Director of the NIH. He has served as Principal Deputy Director and the Deputy Ethics Counselor of NIH since August 2010. Dr. Tabak has worked tirelessly to advance solutions to complex public health and scientific issues including: peer review, team science, precision medicine, data science, rigor and reproducibility, brain research, opioid use disorder, and the COVID-19 pandemic, to name a few. He may be remembered most, however, for his efforts to advance diversity and equity at NIH, initiating critical programs to diversify the biomedical research workforce and increase diversity, inclusion, and accessibility within NIH. 

“We are pleased to honor Dr. Tabak for his years of leadership and service in working to ensure that the United States has a strong and vibrant medical and health research ecosystem,” said Susan Dentzer, Chair of Research!America’s Board of Directors. “We are also grateful to Dr. Tabak for his all-important role in leading the NIH through the current period of transition.” 

The annual Research!America Advocacy Awards — first hosted in 1996 — recognize individuals and organizations whose leadership efforts have advanced the nation’s commitment to medical, health, and scientific research. 

“We are proud to recognize all of our outstanding 2023 honorees. These individuals and organizations – through their innovation, dedication, perseverance, creativity, and generosity of spirit – have advanced our nation’s commitment to research,” said Mary Woolley, President and CEO of Research!America. “Each honoree, in different ways, has accelerated the pace of research progress, strengthened the research enterprise, and increased public and policymaker engagement in medical and health research.” 

Other distinguished awardees announced today are: 

  • The production team for “Hiding in Plain Sight: Youth Mental Illness” will receive the Isadore Rosenfeld Award for Impact on Public Opinion, which recognizes individuals who work to effectively deliver medical, public health, or other health-related research advocacy messages to the public. The PBS Documentary film features first-person accounts from more than 20 young people with mental health conditions. The film aims to further a national conversation around mental health, raise awareness, address stigma and discrimination, and encourage compassion. Production team members are Ken Burns, executive producer; Erik Ewers and Christopher Loren Ewers, directors; Julie Coffman, producer; and David Blistein, writer.
  • Helene Gayle, MD, MPH, President of Spelman College, will receive the Geoffrey Beene Foundation Builders of Science Award, which recognizes those who have provided inspiration and determination in building an outstanding home for research. Dr. Gayle is a public health leader and humanitarian, with a career dedicated to eradicating inequities in health and wealth, including in her roles as past president and CEO of The Chicago Community Trust and of CARE. She also spent over two decades at CDC and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in a variety of roles in global and national public health, with a major focus on HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases.
  • Heywood Fralin, philanthropist, and Michael Friedlander, PhD, Founding Executive Director of Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC (FBRI) and Vice President for Health Sciences and Technology at Virginia Tech, will receive the Gordon and Llura Gund Leadership Award. The award recognizes individuals who have made a significant contribution to increasing the level of advocacy for medical and health research at the local, state, or national level. Fralin and Dr. Friedlander have worked together to establish FBRI, recruit world-class biomedically-focused research teams, and build partnerships with leading institutions to expand research opportunities and investment across the state.
  • Pamela B. Davis, MD, PhD, the Arline H. and Curtis F. Garvin Research Professor, Professor for the Center for Community Health Integration, and Emeritus Dean of Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, will receive the Herbert Pardes Family Award for National Leadership in Advocacy for Research, which recognizes individuals who, throughout their careers, have demonstrated distinguished leadership and sustained commitment to public engagement and advocacy for research. Dr. Davis is a world-renowned researcher in cystic fibrosis and a leader in community outreach, in ensuring high quality medical education, and in building support for clinical research
  • The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research (MJFF) will receive the Paul G. Rogers Distinguished Organization Advocacy Award, which recognizes a public or private organization that is a strong advocate for medical and health research at the national, state, or local level. MJFF has funded more than $1 billion in research programs; promotes Parkinson’s awareness; and advocates for Parkinson’s research, therapies, and treatments. 

We are also pleased to announce the honorees of the Outstanding Achievement in Public Health Awards generously supported by Johnson & Johnson. These awards are a means of celebrating and championing the role individuals and organizations play through research, communication, and public-private partnerships in confronting public health threats that jeopardize our security, prosperity, and well-being. 

  • Margaret “Peggy” Hamburg, MD, 21st Commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and former New York City Health Commissioner, will receive the Outstanding Achievement in Public Health Award, which recognizes an individual for their extraordinary work and enormous contributions to public health. Dr. Hamburg’s accomplishments include implementing an internationally-recognized tuberculosis control program, pioneering the nation’s first public health bioterrorism defense program, laying the groundwork for establishing the Strategic National Stockpile and National Pandemic Flu Preparedness Plan, overseeing FDA modernization to prevent food-borne illness, and establishing new programs to advance regulatory science.
  • James E. Crowe, Jr., MD, Director of Vanderbilt Vaccine Center and Ann Scott Carell Chair, Professor of Pediatrics and Pathology, Microbiology & Immunology at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, will receive the Building the Foundation Award. The award recognizes one or more individuals whose basic research discoveries have played a pivotal role in advancing public health. Dr. Crowe and his lab developed technologies to rapidly develop and advance to clinical trials antibodies against COVID-19.
  • Hip Hop Public Health (HHPH) will receive the Meeting the Moment for Public Health Award, which recognizes an individual or organization that has been a “clear voice,” playing a key role in communicating public health information and developments to members of the public. HHPH – founded by Olajide Williams, MD, and hip hop artist Doug E. Fresh – builds health equity through music, art, culture, and science by developing evidence-based music and multimedia resources for young people to deepen health literacy and build confidence to advocate for themselves, their families, and communities. HHPH has also been a strong voice to increase vaccination confidence and uptake during the pandemic.
  • Noubar Afeyan, PhD, Founder and CEO, Flagship Pioneering, will receive the Rapid Translation Award for his leadership and commitment to rapid medical progress through transformation of the research enterprise toward preemptive health and medicine that builds on public-private partnerships and transformational advances in biology and computation. The award recognizes public-private partnerships that make a critical contribution to public health progress. 

The honoree of the Edwin C. Whitehead Award for Medical Research Advocacy will be announced toward the end of the year. The award 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. 

Presentation of all the Advocacy Awards for 2023 will be made at Research!America’s annual awards event on March 15, 2023. 

For more information about the 2023 Advocacy Awards, including bios of each honoree and details about the various awards, visit: www.researchamerica.org/advocacy-awards. 

Contact Tim Haynes, Senior Director of Communications, at 571-482-2737 or thaynes@researchamerica.org with press inquiries.