Public Service Award
President Freire, Members of the Lasker Foundation Board, Jury Members and Distinguished Guests.
What a wonderful gift Congress gave to the American public, and to the world, when it created the Clinical Center at NIH in 1947, a hospital literally wrapped in research laboratories to enable clinical research studies. You have heard already about the role the Clinical Center plays in serving as a model institution for training today's investigators and discovering tomorrow's cures. The Clinical Center, situated less than 10 miles from the heart of our Nation's capital, is very much a living monument to our country's sustained commitment to clinical research. It is a place where the bench to bedside cycle, which translates basic science discoveries into new treatments and cures to improve public health, is a part of everyday life.
Of all the people who comprise the NIH Clinical Center community and the national clinical research enterprise, the contribution of the patients and healthy volunteers is critical. Their partnership makes clinical research possible they enable a hopeful future of discovery in medicine. It is for this reason that I am delighted that two Clinical Center patients are with us today: Mr. Jerry Sachs, a dedicated member of the Clinical Center's Patient Advisory Group and a 2 time cancer survivor and Ms. Mandy Young, a patient of mine who was the first patient identified with a rare disease known as IRAK-4 deficiency. Jerry and Mandy represent the nearly 500,000 patients who have been seen at the Clinical Center since it first opened in 1953 and who are now studied in the magnificent Mark O. Hatfield Clinical Research Center.
Clinical research is risky business yet human subject volunteers knowingly participate. On the one hand, clinical research promises hope and help while, on the other, it involves risk. We need to study and understand better the sensitivities of patient volunteers because it is becoming increasingly difficult to recruit them to participate in our studies. That is why we recently developed a new survey instrument to understand their concerns. We have partnered recently with colleagues at Rockefeller University and the NIH national network of Clinical and Translational Awardees to evaluate this instrument. From the results of this new survey tool we will learn how to adjust our interactions with our volunteers to assure we provide hope and help to each individual research subject as they enable us to do our research. We, at the Clinical Center, are firmly committed to assuring the vitality of the human subject volunteer population and it is for this purpose, as well as for training young clinical investigators, that we will dedicate the generous honorarium that accompanies the Lasker Award.
I am honored and humbled to accept the 2011 Lasker~Bloomberg Public Health Service Award on behalf of the tens of thousands of public health servants and the nearly half million patient volunteers who have partnered for nearly sixty years to make the Clinical Center such a special place.