PHILADELPHIA--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The board of directors of the Philadelphia-based National Disease Research Interchange (NDRI) will honor National Institutes of Health (NIH) director Francis S. Collins, MD, PhD, and U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), staunch advocates for NIH funding, for their contributions to the advancement of biomedical research at the organization’s 2018 Service to Science Awards Dinner on February 1 at The Union League of Philadelphia.
A physician-geneticist noted for landmark discoveries of disease-related genes and his leadership role in the 2003 completion of a finished sequence of the human DNA instruction book, Dr. Collins will receive NDRI’s prestigious D. Walter Cohen, DDS Service to Science Award presented in honor of the Philadelphia native, prominent member of the local, national and international scientific community and NDRI chairman emeritus. Last year, NDRI bestowed the award to Bennet I. Omalu, MD, MBA, MPH, the physician who took on the National Football League with his discovery of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) in professional athletes.
Mary J.C. Hendrix, PhD, chair of the board of NDRI, said the board’s selection of Dr. Francis Collins for the 2018 Service to Science Award acknowledges Dr. Collins’ “immense personal and professional contributions to biomedical research and service to science through his leadership of the international Human Genome Project, and salutes a more than 30-year highly synergistic collaboration between NDRI and the NIH to advance research across the full spectrum of disease and disability.”
NIH has been a pivotal source of grant funding to NDRI since 1987 when it was awarded the first Human Tissues and Organs for Research Resource (HTORR) grant. In 2010, NDRI was selected as a pilot tissue procurement partner for the NIH Common Fund’s Genotype-Tissue Expression (GTEx) Project. Through three phases of this initiative — including advancing as the sole biospecimen source site for the third phase in late 2015 to strengthen the study’s representation of all age groups — NDRI facilitated the collection of more than 80,000 biospecimens to increase understanding of how variation in gene expression contributes to common human diseases.
Senator Casey honored by NDRI as Champion of Science for promotion of sustained NIH funding
Senator Casey, who each year leads a bi-partisan group of senators calling for sustained funding to the NIH, will be honored with NDRI’s Champion of Science Award in recognition of his ardent commitment to strong, sustained federal investment in biomedical research. NIH investment in Pennsylvania’s research institutions is approximately $1.6 billion, supporting some 22,000 jobs.
In a co-authored May 2017 letter, Senator Casey spoke to the critical role support for NIH plays in spurring continued discoveries that will save and improve lives. “If we are to continue improving the health of Americans and the quality of their lives,” he wrote, “we must continue to invest in biomedical research that has the potential to save money in the future, improve the lives of Americans and offer an economic return for our Nation. Investing in research today will yield cures and therapies for patients tomorrow.”
Bill Leinweber, NDRI president and CEO, who will join Dr. Hendrix in presenting the awards to Senator Casey and Dr. Collins at the February awards dinner, said, “NDRI is tremendously grateful for the support we receive from the NIH under Dr. Collins’ leadership and thanks Senator Casey for his strong and effective advocacy that allows NDRI to partner with scientists throughout the world to expand the horizons of medical knowledge and find answers to today’s most pressing biomedical challenges.”
NDRI will present four additional Service to Science Awards at the event, honoring longtime partners whose contributions help advance biomedical research and improve the lives of patients and their families:
Service to Science — Excellence in Research and Patient Advocacy
Preston W. Campbell, III, MD, president and CEO of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation
Service to Science — Pharmaceutical Industry Leadership Award
Jeffrey M. Leiden, MD, PhD, president and chief executive officer of Vertex Pharmaceuticals
Service to Science — Outstanding Research Donation Partner Award
Sara B. Arvav, MBA, director of operations at Magee-Womens Research Institute and Foundation at Magee-Womens Hospital of University of Pittsburgh Medical Center
Service to Science — Outstanding Tissue Procurement Partner Award
Joseph A. DiRienzi, ASPC, pathologists’ assistant, University of Pennsylvania Medical Center
NDRI’s 2018 Service to Science Awards Dinner begins with a reception at 6 p.m.; dinner and awards from 7 – 9 p.m. Reserve seats at http://ndriresource.org/service-to-science-awards-dinner.
The National Disease Research Interchange (NDRI) is the nation’s leading source of human tissues, cells and organs for scientific research. A not-for-profit 501 (c)(3) organization founded in 1980, NDRI is funded in part by the National Institutes of Health, public and private foundations and organizations, pharmaceutical and biotechnology corporations. NDRI is a 24/7 operation that partners with a nationwide network of over 130 tissue source sites (TSS), including organ procurement organizations (OPO), tissue banks, eye banks, and hospitals. The TSS, are distributed throughout the USA, with concentrations in major metropolitan areas on both the east and west coasts. Their wide geographic distribution allows NDRI to provide biospecimens from donor populations with diverse demographics and also facilitates the timely and efficient provision of fresh tissues directly to researchers around the world. By serving as the liaison between procurement sources and the research community, NDRI is uniquely positioned to support breakthrough advances and discoveries that can affect advances in the treatment and cure of human diseases.