Research!America Honors Leading Health Research Advocates

Sen. Durbin, Mayor Bloomberg, Charlie Rose, Dean Kamen, Michael Bishop and Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center

WASHINGTON - March 15, 2011 

Research!America's 15th Annual Advocacy Awards event convened over 400 leaders from government, academia, industry and health advocacy organizations to honor some of the leading medical and health research advocates of our time. The event took place on the evening of Tuesday, March 15, at the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium in Washington, DC.

This year's Advocacy Award winners are Nobel laureate J. Michael Bishop, MD; New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg; U.S. Senator Richard J. Durbin (D-IL); inventor and physicist Dean Kamen; broadcast journalist Charlie Rose; and the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center (DVBIC).

Richard Durbin      

Senator Durbin, a long-time member of the Senate Labor, Health and Human Services and Education Appropriations Subcommitte, received Research!America's 2011 Edwin C. Whitehead Award for Medical Research Advocacy for his efforts to increase federal investment in medical research throughout his twenty-eight years in Congress. The award recognizes his longstanding commitment to research throughout his three terms in the U.S. Senate and eight terms in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Durbin is assistant majority leader of the U.S. Senate and the senior senator from Illinois. As a long-time member of the Labor, Health and Human Services and Education Appropriations Subcommittee, he has fought for federal investment in medical research to discover new cures, advance technology, stimulate the economy and position the United States as a leader in medical innovation. He has successfully advocated for legislation and research funding to address maternal health, mental health, veteran's health and traumatic brain injury.

Durbin worked to include provisions to the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that bolster health research and prevention. The law also authorizes his Congenital Heart Futures Act to increase awareness, education and research. He also co-sponsored an amendment to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act that secured $10 billion in additional funding for the National Institutes of Health in 2009.

Durbin is a strong proponent of stem cell research, having co-sponsored the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Acts of 2005 and 2007 and supported President Barack Obama's decision to expand federal funding for embryonic stem cell research.

A champion of infant and child health, he has co-sponsored legislation to prevent birth defects and to advance medical research and treatments for pediatric cancers. He has worked to increase immunizations, reduce infant mortality and boost federal funding to prevent childhood asthma.

Durbin is a long-standing, dedicated supporter of public health and global health. He has helped to increase funding for tobacco prevention programs, authored legislation to ban smoking on airline flights and in schools, and co-sponsored legislation giving FDA authority to regulate tobacco products. He is a founding member of the Senate Global AIDS Caucus, fought successfully to increase federal funding for combating AIDS worldwide and supported measures for treatment and prevention of HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.

The benefactors of this award are the Whitehead Charitable Foundation and the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research. Edwin C. Whitehead (1919-1992) worked to further medical research with the founding of the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research in 1982 and the founding of Research!America in 1989. His lifelong commitment to medical research continues through his children-Susan, John and Peter-and their work with the Whitehead Institute, Research!America and other organizations.

Research!America is the nation's largest nonprofit public education and advocacy alliance working to make research to improve health a higher national priority. The 2011 Advocacy Awards represent Research!America's 15th year of recognizing the accomplishments of leading advocates for medical and health research. For more information, visit

Mary J.C. Hendrix, PhD, President and Scientific Director of Children’s Memorial Research Center is the treasurer of Research!America.