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Research!America to honor leaders in medical and health research advocacy

October 19, 2015

ALEXANDRIA, Va.--October 19, 2015 --Research!America's 20th annual Advocacy Awards will honor exceptional advocates for research whose achievements in their fields have brought hope to patients worldwide. The event will take place on Wednesday, March 16, 2016, at the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium in Washington, DC.

The 2016 Advocacy Award winners are Dr. John Noseworthy, president and CEO of Mayo Clinic; George Vradenburg, chairman and co-founder of UsAgainstAlzheimer's and Trish Vradenburg, vice-chair and co-founder of UsAgainstAlzheimer's; Dr. Robert Langer, Institute Professor at MIT; The ALS Association; and Lisa Paulsen and Entertainment Industry Foundation. Dr. Harold Varmus, Nobel Laureate and Professor of Medicine, Meyer Cancer Center, Weill Cornell Medicine, will receive the Legacy Award.

"Dr. Harold Varmus has made extraordinary contributions to science and science leadership over a long and productive career," said Honorable John E. Porter, Chair, Research!America. "His remarkable contributions to our understanding of cancer, as well as his policy and advocacy expertise, distinguish him as highly deserving of our Legacy Award."

The annual Research!America Advocacy Awards program was established by the Board of Directors in 1996 to honor outstanding advocates for medical, health and scientific research.

"From leading the science community, to empowering the patient community to affect policy change, to raising awareness of research across the nation, the 2016 honorees have raised the bar for other research advocates," said Mary Woolley, president and CEO, Research!America. "We salute their determination to speak out in raising public awareness and support that fuels our ability to find solutions to threats that impact the health and economic security of Americans."

Dr. Harold Varmus, who will receive the Legacy Award, is the Lewis Thomas University professor at the Meyer Cancer Center of Weill Cornell Medicine and was co-recipient, with J. Michael Bishop of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for studies of the genetic basis of cancer. Over the past 22 years, Dr. Varmus served as the director of the National Cancer Institute (2010-2015), president of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (2000-2010) and director of the National Institutes of Health (1993-1999). A graduate of Amherst College and Harvard University in English literature and Columbia University in medicine, he trained at Columbia University Medical Center, the National Institutes of Health, and the University of California San Francisco (UCSF), before joining the UCSF basic science faculty. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Medicine (formerly the Institute of Medicine) and is involved in several initiatives to promote science and health in developing countries. The author of over 350 scientific papers and five books, including a recent memoir titled "The Art and Politics of Science," he served as co-chair of President Obama's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology and was a co-founder and Chairman of the Board of the Public Library of Science, and chair of the Scientific Board of the Gates Foundation Grand Challenges in Global Health.

Dr. John Noseworthy, president and CEO of Mayo Clinic, is selected to receive the Geoffrey Beene Builders of Science Award for his leadership to ensure Mayo Clinic remains a trusted resource for patients amid a rapidly changing health care environment, extending Mayo's mission to new populations, providing care through more efficient delivery models, and increasing the personalization and immediacy of healthcare for all people. Examples of new initiatives include a proton beam cancer therapy program with two treatment centers - one in Phoenix and one in Rochester, Minn. - and development of a Mayo Clinic-affiliate network of high-quality medical practices throughout the country. Dr. Noseworthy is also a professor in the Department of Neurology. He specializes in multiple sclerosis and has spent more than two decades designing and conducting controlled clinical trials with generous support from the Medical Research Council of Canada, the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada, the National Multiple Sclerosis Society (USA) and the National Institutes of Health. Dr. Noseworthy also is the author of more than 150 research papers, chapters, editorials and several books, including the three-volume textbook "Neurological Therapeutics: Principles and Practice," now in its second edition. He also served as editor-in-chief for Neurology, the official journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

George and Trish Vradenburg will be honored with the Gordon and Llura Gund Leadership Award. They are the co-founders of UsAgainstAlzheimer's (UsA2), a disruptive, entrepreneurial organization advancing solutions to the Alzheimer's challenge. UsAgainstAlzheimer's speaks for persons with or at risk for Alzheimer's in pressing for greater urgency from government, industry and the scientific community - accomplishing this through sustained and relentless leadership, fierce advocacy, strategic investments and a focus on engaging women, African Americans and Latinos. George also convenes the Global CEO Initiative (CEOi) on Alzheimer's Disease, the only industry coalition dedicated to stopping Alzheimer's, and co-convenes Leaders Engaged on Alzheimer's Disease (LEAD), a network of 77 major Alzheimer's-serving organizations from the not-for-profit, foundation, academic, corporate and government sectors. George was appointed to the World Dementia Council by the UK Secretary of State for Health in March 2014, and was a founding member of the U.S. Health and Human Services' Advisory Council on Research, Care, and Services. George previously served in senior executive positions at AOL/Time Warner, Fox and CBS. Trish Vradenburg is the vice-chair of UsA2 and a founder of WomenAgainstAlzheimer's. She is also a playwright, author, comedy writer, journalist and advocate. She has written for television shows including "Designing Women," "Family Ties" and "Kate and Allie." Her play, "Surviving Grace," a comedic/dramatic homage to her mother who succumbed to Alzheimer's was produced throughout the U.S., including off-Broadway. Trish's novel, "Liberated Lady," was chosen as Literary Guild and Doubleday Book Club selections and has been translated into three foreign languages.

Dr. Robert Langer has been selected to receive the Raymond and Beverly Sackler Award for Sustained National Leadership. He is an institute professor at MIT (there are 13 institute professors at MIT; being named an institute professor is the highest honor that can be awarded to a faculty member). Over 270 of his trainees are now professors, 13 have been elected to the National Academy of Engineering and nine have been elected to the National Academy of Medicine, and 34 to the Technology Review under 35. His h-index of 215 is the highest of any engineer in history and he has nearly 1,100 issued and pending patents worldwide. His patents have licensed or sublicensed to over 300 companies. He served as chairman of the FDA Science Board (FDA's highest advisory board) from 1999-2002. Dr. Langer is one of very few individuals ever elected to the National Academy of Medicine, the National Academy of Engineering, the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Inventors. He is one of four living individuals to have received both the United States National Medal of Science and the United States National Medal of Technology and Innovation.

The ALS Association has been selected to receive the Paul G. Rogers Distinguished Organization Advocacy Award. As the preeminent ALS organization, the Association leads the way in research, care services, public education, and public policy -- giving help and hope to those facing the disease. The Association's nationwide network of chapters provides comprehensive patient services and support to the ALS community. The mission of the ALS Association is to lead the fight to treat and cure ALS through global research and nationwide advocacy, while also empowering people with Lou Gehrig's disease and their families to live fuller lives by providing them with compassionate care and support. The first ALS Ice Bucket Challenge in the summer of 2014 became the world's largest global social media phenomenon. More than 17 million people uploaded their challenge videos to Facebook; these videos were watched by 440 million people a total of 10 billion times. It is now an annual event to raise awareness and funds to find treatments and a cure for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

Lisa Paulsen and the Entertainment Industry Foundation (EIF) will receive the Isadore Rosenfeld Award for Impact on Public Opinion. Ms. Paulsen is the president and CEO of EIF, a leading charitable organization of the entertainment industry that harnesses the collective power of Hollywood to raise awareness and funds for critical health, educational and social issues. The Entertainment Industry Foundation engages support from the industry's leadership, with CEOs and other senior executives from the major studios, networks, talent agencies and guilds serving on EIF's board of directors. During Ms. Paulsen's tenure as CEO, EIF has raised more than $800 million for charitable causes, with a significant portion of that going to cancer research, awareness, prevention and treatment programs. EIF grants have accelerated scientific breakthroughs such as the breast cancer therapy Herceptin®, which was approved by the FDA far in advance of the timeframe initially anticipated. Ms. Paulsen and EIF co-founded Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C), through which more than $360 million has been pledged to support collaborative cancer research. SU2C has awarded grants supporting more than 1,000 researchers at over 130 institutions, who have been involved in 162 clinical trials since SU2C's launch in 2008. Through EIF's National Colorectal Cancer Research Alliance, co-founded with Katie Couric, EIF has also supported research by leading colon cancer experts, and numerous colon cancer awareness campaigns that are widely credited with contributing to a 30 percent decrease in the number of cases diagnosed nationally over the last 10 years.

The honorees are those whose leadership efforts have been notably effective in advancing our nation's commitment to research. For more information about the 2016 Advocacy Awards Dinner, visit
About Research!America

Research!America is the nation's largest nonprofit public education and advocacy alliance working to make research to improve health a higher national priority. Founded in 1989, Research!America is supported by member organizations that represent the voices of 125 million Americans. Visit


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