Pelosi Remarks Upon Receiving Whitehead Award from Research!America


Washington, D.C. — Speaker Nancy Pelosi will be presented with the Whitehead Award at Research!America’s 20th Anniversary Advocacy Awards tonight at a ceremony at the Mellon Auditorium. 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.

Below are the Speaker’s remarks as prepared:

“What a tremendous honor it is to receive the Whitehead Award from Susan Whitehead and former Congressman Lou Stokes. 

“Thank you, Susan, for carrying on the proud tradition of your family.  Susan’s father, Jack Whitehead, dedicated his entire career to pushing the boundaries of science to discover and innovate in new ways.  Today, the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research at MIT continues his tradition: supporting revolutionary research in how to prevent, treat, and cure, disease.

“In all of Congress’s efforts to increase the investments in medical research through the Labor HHS Appropriations Subcommittee, Congressman Lou Stokes was always in the lead.

“When we worked together to double the funding for the NIH, we worked under our terrific Chairman, John Porter.  Thank you, John, for continuing your great leadership to keep American healthy, innovative, and competitive as Chair of Research!America.

“I would like to acknowledge Mary Woolley, President of Research!America.  The city of San Francisco takes great pride in the fact that Mary was educated at San Francisco State University and directed the Medical Research Institute of San Francisco before coming to Research!America.

“I’m here tonight to say, ‘Thank you, Research!America.’  Everyone wondered if it was possible in 1990 when you first called for the budget for the NIH to be doubled.

“In 1998, then Congressmen Porter and Stokes and I worked together in the House, with Senators Arlen Specter and Tom Harkin in the Senate, to set our nation on that path.  Being part of the efforts to double the funding for NIH is one of the great highlights of my career.  I know Senator Harkin’s work has already been recognized with the Whitehead Award, and I am proud to receive my award alongside Senator Specter tonight.

“As you know, beginning in 2003, the NIH’s budget started to lose ground as our nation’s commitment to science was undermined.

“I come here tonight thrilled by the fact that with the Obama Administration, those days are over.

“The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act that the President signed into law last month included $10 billion in investments in NIH – $8.2 billion for research grants and $1.8 billion for research facilities and equipment.   This is in addition to $7.55 billion in investments in science outside of NIH.  We know that there is no greater long-term engine for our economy than scientific discovery.

“In addition, the omnibus spending bill signed by President Obama just two weeks ago provided an almost $1 billion increase over last year.  These investments will allow NIH to fund approximately 16,000 new research grants.

“In San Francisco, we are very proud that UCSF is the third largest recipient nationwide of NIH funds.  And in San Francisco, as is the case from coast to coast, NIH grants are being used for research that will save lives, cure disease, and improve quality of life.  In particular, I am proud of the way UCSF researchers have developed new strategies to diagnose Alzheimer ‘s disease, fight cancer, and extend the lives of HIV-positive people.

“Wasn’t it music to our ears when President Obama said in his Inaugural Address, ‘We will restore science to its rightful place?’

“The President honored that promise by lifting the executive ban on federal funding for stem cell research, and giving hope, and potentially health, to millions. Every family in America is just one diagnosis, one phone call, or one accident away from needing the benefits of embryonic stem cell research.

“God has given us science and its biblical power to cure, and scientists must be allowed to pursue the research that they believe has the greatest potential, while respecting the highest ethical standards.  And as they do, America will remain a world leader in innovation, discovery, and growth.

“I believe that if we have a scientific opportunity to treat and cure disease, we have a moral opportunity to support it. 

“Doubling the NIH budget was not possible without Research!America.  Our inside maneuvering relied on your outside mobilization.  We need your help again to make President Obama’s executive order on stem cell research the law of the land.  

“It is appropriate that the Whitehead Award depicts the American flag – because the quest to unlock scientific truths is part of the American tradition.  It has helped to make America great.

“Scientific research is essential to our future.  In all our efforts to ensure America remains preeminent in science and research, Research!America will lead the way.”

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