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UCSD-Salk Institute Awards Presented to Christopher Reeve, Dr. Donald Seldin, Genentech, Inc. and Dr. Dennis Slamon

Actor and activist Christopher Reeve was presented with the first UCSD-Salk Institute Service Award for his tireless efforts to raise awareness of the importance of basic research for human biology and disease in a ceremony at The Birch Aquarium at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography on March 21.

Dr. Ron Evans of The Salk Institute and Dr. Kenneth Chien of UCSD join
Christopher Reeve, recipient of the UCSD-Salk Institute Service Award, in a
media briefing prior to the awards banquet. 

The UCSD-Salk Institute Translational Medicine Award was given jointly to Dr. Dennis Slamon of UCLA and to Genentech, Inc., represented by CEO and Chairman Arthur D. Levinson, Ph.D.; and the UCSD-Salk Institute Mentorship Award was presented to Dr. Donald Seldin, of the University of Texas, Southwestern Medical School at Dallas. The awards were established to recognize significant contributions in the advancement of biomedical research, and in the application of basic science findings to the improvement of human health.

The awards banquet concluded “A Day of Molecular Medicine,” a scientific symposium featuring the some of the world’s preeminent researchers, including many San Diego-based scientists. The symposium opened with a keynote address by Nobel Laureates Michael S. Brown and Joseph L. Goldstein.

At the evening ceremony, Reeve was given the Service Award for his unwavering personal campaign to increase public and legislative awareness of the need to support basic research in health. Injured in an equestrian competition in 1995, Reeve is a powerful spokesperson for people with disabilities and for the profound impact medical science can have on everyone’s life.

Introduced as a prominent activist on behalf of the intersection of medicine and science, Christopher Reeve said, "Research is no longer speculative.  So much progress has been made that we are financing problem solving.  Diseases are problems, and problems can be solved.  I became a member of a club that I wouldn't have wanted to join, but I had two choices: do nothing, or activate and motivate.  It was a simple decision to make.  Life is fragile and unpredictable.  My wish is to connect people in the pink of health with those who are suffering and forge a common understanding, and to raise awareness that diseases..are interconnected--what we learn about one impacts others."

The UCSD-Salk Institute Translational Medicine Award, for pioneering scientific and clinical work that leads to therapeutic advances, was given to Dr. Dennis Slamon and to Genentech, Inc., represented by Arthur Levinson, chairman and chief executive officer. Slamon, director of the Revlon/UCLA Women’s Cancer Research Program at the UCLA Jonsson Cancer Center, and Genentech, Inc., pioneered efforts that led to the development and application of Herceptin  as a new therapy for metastatic breast cancer.

"I am humbled by this award,” said Levinson. “Every step of the way was dependent upon basic science support.”

“What drove our lab and labs around the world was the idea that we had not taken advantage of biology but were dependent upon cytotoxic drugs in the treatment of cancer, which is like throwing a bomb in, hoping to kill more bad cells than good. To understand the changes at the biological level gives us hope that we can understand the problem and then solve it,” said Slamon.

Dr. Donald Seldin, chairman emeritus, Internal Medicine, University of Texas Southwestern Medical School at Dallas (UT-Southwestern), is the recipient of the UCSD-Salk Institute Mentorship Award, established for exceptional work in the mentoring of scientists and physicians. Seldin is being recognized for building an outstanding Department of Medicine that has generated many leaders in molecular biology, including two Nobel laureates and seven members of the National Academy of Sciences.

“What is important is the creation of an environment of inquiry, intellectual excitement and excellence that elevates people so they can do not only what they’re capable of, but more than they are capable of,” said Seldin.

Media contact: Leslie Franz (619)543-6163

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