The EDWIN C. WHITEHEAD AWARD FOR MEDICAL RESEARCH ADVOCACY recognizes exemplary leaders, particularly those in public office, who have shown a long-standing commitment to advancing health research as a national priority and who galvanize others in support of science policy and funding.
Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson is serving her 14th term representing the 30th District of Texas. Congresswoman Johnson is the first African-American and woman to chair the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology and is the Dean of the Texas Congressional delegation in addition to serving as Dean of the Texas, New Mexico and Arizona Democratic Congressional Delegation. Congresswoman Johnson is the highest ranking Texan on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and the first nurse to be elected to the U.S. Congress.
Congresswoman Johnson began her career as the first female African American Chief Psychiatric Nurse at the V.A. Hospital in Dallas. In 1972, she became the first nurse ever elected to the Texas State House, and achieved that that same distinction upon her election to the Texas Senate in 1986. From 2011 to 2018, she served as the Science, Space and Technology Committee’s first African-American and first female Ranking Member.
Congresswoman Johnson has a reputation as a stateswoman who works with both parties to get things done – a reputation earned during her more than 40 years in public office. Congresswoman Johnson is widely recognized as one of the most effective legislators in Congress, credited with authoring and co-authoring more than 177 bills that were passed by the House and Senate and signed into law by the president. She has a long-standing reputation for providing excellent constituent services to the people who elected her. She is the founder of the Diversity & Innovation Caucus, the founder and co-chair of the Congressional Homelessness Caucus, co-chair of the Congressional Lupus Caucus, and co-chair of the Congressional Caucus of Bosnia. Congresswoman Johnson had the honor to serve as Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus during the 107th Congress. Her acclaimed initiative, A World of Women for World Peace, has gained national and international recognition. Congresswoman Johnson is the proud mother of one son, Kirk, and grandmother to three grandsons, Kirk Jr., David, and James.