Press Release

PhRMA Honors 2015 Research & Hope Award Recipients

PhRMA September 9, 2015

WASHINGTON (September 9, 2015) — The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) this evening announced the recipients of the 2015 Research & Hope Awards, honoring researchers and patient advocates for their roles in advancing innovative biopharmaceutical research and improving patient care. This year’s awardees were recognized for their work in the fight against cancer, which claims the lives of more than seven million people worldwide every year.

PhRMA is joined by 26 patient and community health organizations in honoring the 2015 award winners at an annual dinner in Washington, D.C., featuring a keynote address by legendary NBC News anchor and New York Times best-selling author Tom Brokaw. Brokaw was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a treatable but generally incurable blood cancer, in 2013.

Recipients of the PhRMA 2015 Research & Hopes Awards are:

The PhRMA Research & Hope Award for Academic Research

  • J. Silvio Gutkind, Ph.D., Department of Pharmacology, University of California San Diego and associate director, Basic Science, Moores Cancer Center, University of California San Diego

Dr. J. Silvio Gutkind pioneered the study of the potent oncogenic activity of G proteins and GPCR (G protein-coupled receptors), which ultimately led to novel strategies for treating and preventing many types of cancer. For more information on his critical work, see the video and his biography (created while he was chief , Oral and Pharyngeal Cancer Branch, National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, NIH).

The PhRMA Research & Hope Award for Biopharmaceutical Industry Research

  • Merck Team for KEYTRUDA®

The Merck team developed pembrolizumab (known as KEYTRUDA®), which was approved last year to treat previously treated advanced melanoma by working with a patient’s immune system, and is also under priority FDA review for the treatment of previously treated advanced non-small cell lung cancer.  Merck is advancing a broad and fast-growing clinical development program for KEYTRUDA with more than 100 clinical trials – across more than 30 tumor types and enrolling more than 16,000 patients – both as a monotherapy and in combination with other therapies. For more information, see the video, prescribing information and team biographies.

The PhRMA Research & Hope Award for Excellence in Advocacy & Activism

  •  Victoria Reggie Kennedy, president of the Board and co-founder, Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate; senior counsel, Greenberg Traurig LLP

Victoria Reggie Kennedy, co-founder and president of the Board for the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate; senior counsel, Greenberg Traurig LLP, is the surviving spouse of Senator Ted Kennedy, who died as a result of a malignant glioma, a type of cancerous brain tumor. Since her husband’s death, Kennedy has become an advocate for cancer patients and their families, speaking publically on coping with stress and handling quality of life issues for patients and their loved ones. For more information on her achievements, see the video and her biography.

The PhRMA Research & Hope Award for Community Champion

  • Rick Dunetz, founder and executive director, The Side-Out Foundation

Rick Dunetz, executive director and founder of The Side-Out Foundation, a support and advocacy organization dedicated to making a difference in the lives of breast cancer patients and their families by supporting clinical trials, increasing patient support services and educating communities. Inspired by his mother’s battle with metastatic breast cancer, Dunetz works to unite young athletes and cancer patients, bringing hope and energy to the cause. For more information on his contributions, see the video and his biography.

The PhRMA Research & Hope Award for Visibility & Progress Award

  • Liz and Jay Scott, co-executive directors, Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation

Liz and Jay Scott co-founded Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation, along with their daughter, Alex, as a way to raise money and awareness of childhood cancer by encouraging others – especially children – to get involved. Since their daughter, who was diagnosed with childhood cancer before her first birthday and died before she reached the age of 10, set up her first lemonade stand in 2000, the Foundation has raised approximately $100 million to fund more than 475 cutting-edge research projects. For more information on the family’s work, see the video and their biography.

“This year’s winners are cancer-fighting pioneers both professionally and in their communities,” said Kenneth C. Frazier, chairman, PhRMA Board of Directors and chairman and chief executive officer, Merck. “These honorees turned inspiration into action, helping to revolutionize cancer research and care.”

In recent decades, tremendous progress has been made in the fight against cancer. Advances in molecular and genomic research have revealed underlying complexities and provided insights into cancer, resulting in a 22 percent decline in the rate of cancer deaths since the early 1990s. Last year, there were 14.5 million cancer survivors living in the United States, an increase from three million in 1971. The American Cancer Society attributes 83 percent of survival gains to new treatments, including innovative and effective medicines. Great progress has and continues to be made in the fight against cancer, but the complicated disease remains the second leading cause of death in the United States.

“These growing numbers signify the incredible progress we have made in treating this terrible disease,” said John J. Castellani, president and chief executive officer, PhRMA. “The 2015 awardees represent some of our best hope for continuing this progress and lessening the burden that cancer exacts on all Americans. And as their work continues and targeted therapies are discovered, hope will continue to grow for those patients.”

The 2015 Research & Hope Awards honorees were selected by the Scientific Advisory Board of the PhRMA Foundation following an open nominations process. Twenty-six health advocacy partners  joined PhRMA in recognizing the honorees, including: American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN), American Lung Association Lung Force, American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO), Association of Community Cancer Centers (ACCC), American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), Bladder Cancer Advocacy Network (BCAN), Cancer Support Community, Chris4Life, Colon Cancer Alliance, C-Change, Community Oncology Alliance (COA), CancerCare, Friends of Cancer Research, Global Colon Cancer Association, Lungevity, Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF), National Patient Advocate Foundation (NPAF), No Stomach for Cancer, Oncology Nursing Society (ONS), Ovarian Cancer National Alliance, Prevent Cancer, Sarcoma Foundation of America (SFA), Susan G. Komen and Women Against Prostate Cancer.

For more information on the 2015 Research & Hope Awards, including awardee biographies and videos, visit


About PhRMA
The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) represents the country’s leading innovative biopharmaceutical research companies, which are devoted to discovering and developing medicines that enable patients to live longer, healthier, and more productive lives. Since 2000, PhRMA member companies have invested more than $600 billion in the search for new treatments and cures, including an estimated $51.2 billion in 2014 alone.

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