‘Oscars’ of Government
Sammies Go to NIH’s Fauci, Pastan
Two NIH’ers have received 2020 Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medals (Sammies).
NIAID director Dr. Anthony Fauci was named Federal Employee of the Year. NCI distinguished investigator Dr. Ira Pastan received the Paul A. Volcker Career Achievement Award, which recognizes significant and sustained contributions during 20 or more years of federal service.
Known as the “Oscars” of government, the honors are given annually by the nonpartisan, nonprofit Partnership for Public Service to honor outstanding achievement by public sector employees.
The partnership honored Fauci for serving “as the government’s premier expert and spokesperson on infectious diseases during six presidencies, including taking a prominent role in seeking to protect the public from the highly contagious and deadly new coronavirus that swept through the country and the world in 2020.”
In a humorous video, Fauci, also well-known as a staunch fan of local sports, accepted his Sammie from four of the Washington Nationals Racing Presidents. The mascots were filmed wearing face masks at the stadium, where they received the Employee of the Year trophy—and sealed winner’s envelope, Oscars-style—from a tuxedo-wearing Sammies official. After opening the envelope and realizing the winner’s identity, the mascots take off running through D.C. until they reach Fauci’s front door, where the honoree—also wearing a Nationals face mask—thanks them for the award.
In remarks following formal presentation of the Sammie by actor and producer Kristen Bell, Fauci describes his worklife before and during Covid-19.
View both videos at https://servicetoamericamedals.org/honorees/anthony-s-fauci-m-d/.
Pastan, a scientific luminary at NCI for more than 60 years, was lauded for developing a non-chemotherapeutic drug for a bone marrow cancer—hairy cell leukemia. In the virtual Sammies ceremony, longtime colleagues such as NIH director Dr. Francis Collins and former NIH director Dr. Harold Varmus spoke of Pastan’s career of research excellence and innovation as well as his many decades of mentoring generations of scientists.
In videotaped remarks, Pastan thanked his wife and children for their sacrifices for his career, and his research group, the “Immunotoxin Team,” for their collaboration over the years. He also discussed the mechanism of hairy cell disease, how the drug he devised works and how he hopes to develop similar iterations of it for other cancers, including mesothelioma.
NIH’ers were also among 2020 Sammie finalists: Dr. Nancy Sullivan, chief, biodefense research section in the Vaccine Research Center, was cited for her development of an effective Ebola treatment; and Dr. John Tisdale, chief of the Cellular and Molecular Therapeutics Branch at the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, and Dr. Griffin Rodgers, director of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, were noted for their pioneering research on a cure for sickle cell disease.
Watch the hour-long virtual ceremony, which salutes all public servants and Sammie honorees, and features appearances by former presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama along with celebrities such as Bono, Samantha Bee and Stephen Colbert at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D1qrMBEfp6M.