Reps. Frank Wolf (R-VA) and Chaka Fattah (D-PA) will receive the Edwin C. Whitehead Award for Medical Research Advocacy for their leadership and unwavering commitment to supporting policies that promote federal and private sector medical research and innovation. Reps. Wolf and Fattah have spearheaded efforts to create a legislative and regulatory climate conducive to medical innovation.
"Representatives Wolf and Fattah are exceptional champions for research," said Research!America Chair John Edward Porter. "They have worked vigorously to increase funding for research, support policies that ignite public and private sector innovation, maintain our global competitiveness, and help patients and their families struggling with costly and debilitating diseases."
Wolf is currently a senior member of the House Appropriations Committee, presides as chairman of the Commerce, Justice, Science Subcommittee, and is a member of the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development and State and Foreign Operations subcommittees. Throughout his distinguished tenure in Congress, Wolf has worked to advance the state of science and R&D, and he recognizes the role innovation plays in our nation's economy, health and international competitiveness. Notably, he was a founder of the "Rising Above the Gathering Storm" Commission which sparked a national effort to bolster federal science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education and R&D programs. These efforts culminated in the enactment of the first America COMPETES Act in 2007 to increase public-private partnerships and provide assistance to innovators throughout the country. Wolf also supported the act's reauthorization in 2010. He is an active member of several caucuses, including research and development, Parkinson's, Alzheimer's and multiple sclerosis.
"It has been a true privilege to play a role in advocating for the resources and policy environment required not only to maintain our global leadership in the scientific arena, but to optimize the use of science for the good of our nation and the world," Wolf said. "Scientific innovation has saved countless lives, fueled our economy, equipped our troops and advanced our ability to heal wounded warriors. I am convinced it will ultimately supply the multilateral communication and understanding necessary to advance human rights and protect the health of people worldwide. I truly appreciate being recognized by Research!America, an alliance fully committed to the same fundamental goals."
Fattah is a strong advocate for research and innovation, his commitment exemplified by his role as the ranking member of the Appropriation Committee's Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies subcommittee. He spearheads the Fattah Neuroscience Initiative, a collaborative interagency approach to advancing the future of neuroscience research. The FNI intends to significantly increase federal investment in neuroscience research. In partnership with the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Fattah Neuroscience Initiative also works to educate other Members of Congress and their staffs about current and potential areas of neuroscience research. Fattah also formed an international research alliance with Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY), dedicated to creating a partnership in neuroscience research particularly aimed at developing treatments for Alzheimer's and other neurodegenerative diseases and moving them from the laboratory to the marketplace. Last year, Fattah introduced America's FOCUS Act, legislation that would channel additional federal dollars into the medical research supported and conducted by NIH at no cost to the taxpayer.
"It is an honor to be recognized by Research!America, an organization that works day in and day out to make medical research one of our country's top priorities," Fattah said. "I have been proud to partner with the scientific and health communities - especially in the area of neuroscience - to advance our nation's commitment to research and advocacy. There is so much at stake here; medical research is not only a conduit to breakthrough preventions and cures, it is a critical driver of our economy. When we've found a cure for Alzheimer's or unlocked the mystery of autism, it will be a result of our collaborative efforts."
The Whitehead Award will be presented to Reps. Wolf and Fattah at Research!America's 2014 Advocacy Awards dinner on Wednesday, March 12, in Washington, DC, as a part of the alliance's 25th anniversary commemoration. The program honors outstanding individuals and organizations in advocacy for medical, health and scientific research. The Whitehead Award, named in honor of Research!America's 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.
Other Advocacy Award winners include actress Glenn Close and her family for their work to end the stigmas and misunderstandings surrounding mental illness; Leroy Hood, MD, PhD, president of the Institute for Systems Biology; Kathy Giusti, founder and CEO of the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF); Reed Tuckson, MD, managing director of Tuckson Health Connections; and The Progeria Research Foundation (PRF).