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Posted at 11:59 a.m. on March 15, 2012
It’s a good week to be Sen. Barbara Mikulski.
The Maryland Democrat will not only become the longest-serving female Member of Congress this Saturday, but she also received a Research!America award Wednesday night at a star-studded banquet.
The almost 500-person event at the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium honored advocates in scientific, health and medical research. Mikulski received the Edwin C. Whitehead Award for Medical Research Advocacy, which celebrated her support for research funding, public health and her overall “support for research as a force for economic competitiveness.”
Mikulski shared the stage with CNN chief medical correspondent Sanjay Gupta. Both pushed for continual support for the research sciences, and both received hearty standing ovations from the medical-community-linked crowd.
And we’re 99.9 percent sure it was the only event in town where a reference to the Dewey Decimal System received knowing nods and giggles. (Yes, that did happen while waiting in line for table assignments.)
Among those in spotted in the crowd: Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric K. Shinseki and his wife Patricia, former Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I.) and Carolyn M. Clancy, director for Health and Human Services’ Agency for Health-Care Research and Quality. Award presenters included former Reps. John Porter (R-Ill.), now chairman of Research!America, Kweisi Mfume (D-Md.) and Mike Castle (R-Del.).
The auditorium featured blue up-lit pillars with snowflakes illuminated on the ceiling despite the nearly 80-degree temperatures that day. In the large green room, prior to dinner, attendees were neck-to-neck and nibbled on various appetizers, including delicious scallops, and wine from the Staglin Family Vineyard, a Napa Valley winery. (A chilled Maryland crab bisque was served for dinner, and we know the Senator has a well-known crab cakes recipe. She must have been pleased.)
Mikulski, never one to relish the limelight, spoke of America’s need to boost funding for the sciences. “I am so sick and tired of hearing about China,” she said. “We need to stop fooling around and start focusing on what makes this country great.”
She noted her love of science growing up in Baltimore: “I’ve turned out to be a better political scientist than biological scientist.”
Mikulski concluded her remarks with a bit of comedy.
“May the force be with you,” she said to much laughter.
This was the advocacy organization’s 16th annual awards dinner. A video montage showed previous award recipients, including Sen. Dick Durbin, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and former Rep. David Obey (D-Wis.).
— Stacey Skotzko
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