Senator a Surprise Guest at Director’s Awards
U.S. Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) made a surprise guest appearance at the NIH Director’s Awards Ceremony on July 19. On campus for an afternoon tour and science briefing, the lawmaker asked to address the assembly briefly after learning that the awards program would be held at the same time as his visit.
At the event, NIH director Dr. Francis Collins introduced Warner as a constant and loyal friend of scientific research and NIH in particular. Warner thanked Collins and congratulated awardees for their outstanding accomplishments. The senator noted that he’s had close personal ties to medical research for many years, with a keen interest especially in work on Alzheimer’s disease and type 1 diabetes— his mom died of AD in 2010 and one of his children was diagnosed with diabetes as a youngster.
Concluding his remarks, in which he denounced sequestration as “stupid,” Warner pledged to continue to work with colleagues in Congress to appropriate more funds for NIH.
While on campus he also met with Dr. James Anderson, NIH deputy director for program coordination, planning and strategic initiatives, who gave an NIH overview. Warner, Anderson and Dr. Elizabeth Wilder, director of the Office of Strategic Coordination, discussed the Gabriella Miller Kids First Pediatric Research Program.
The senator toured the lab of Dr. Terry Fry, head of the hematologic malignancies section in NCI’s Pediatric Oncology Branch. POB acting chief Dr. Brigitte Widemann participated in that session. Lastly Warner talked with Dr. Susan Resnick, senior investigator in the Laboratory of Behavioral Neuroscience at the National Institute on Aging.
Warner, Collins and NCI acting director Dr. Doug Lowy later posted on social media about the visit.