Earlier this month, I had the opportunity to participate in A Celebration of Science, where more than 1,000 leaders from across the scientific research and policy communities participated in a three-day event led by FasterCures and the Milken Institute. This celebration was held to reaffirm the importance of biomedical research and showcase the outcomes of research on people’s lives. The event took many forms, ranging from panels and presentations to a special concert event at the Kennedy Center.
The event came to NIH for a full day, where speakers and attendees convened at our Natcher Conference Center, not only to show the positive results of biomedical research on people’s lives, but also to engage in frank discussions of how to move forward.
These discussions included a topic my office is closely familiar with: supporting science in times of constrained budgets. It was promising to see Congressional representatives from both sides of the aisle—Representative Eric Cantor, the House majority leader, and Representative Steny Hoyer, the House minority whip—share the stage and acknowledge NIH’s vital role in supporting biomedical research.
But I was especially moved by the presentations from the individuals and families that have benefited from biomedical research progress. Dawn Averitt Bridge, an HIV-positive woman that later developed AIDS, spoke about how healthcare advances not only allowed her to survive, but also thrive in life, and become the mother of two non-HIV-infected children. Retta and Joe Beery, joined by their three children, described how whole genome sequencing changed their family’s life when it pinpointed the movement disorder affecting two of their children since birth—a treatable form of dystonia. It was extraordinarily meaningful to have patients share their personal stories and demonstrate the true value of NIH research—its ability to improve lives.
The day was inspiring and makes me proud to work at NIH and especially proud of the research you do as part of our incredible mission: to improve the health of the nation and the world. I encourage you to watch the highlight video below, or the full NIH Day morning session and evening session online. I hope it inspires you too.