Shepherd University President Mary J.C. Hendrix presented the National Disease Research Interchange (NDRI) D. Walter Cohen, DDS Service to Science Award to Francis S. Collins, M.D., director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), during the NDRI annual Service to Science Awards Dinner February 1 in Philadelphia.

Hendrix serves as chair of the NDRI’s board of directors. The D. Walter Cohen award recognizes the renowned physician-geneticist’s personal and professional contributions to biomedical research through his leadership in the Human Genome Project and a 30-year collaboration between the Genome Project and NDRI to advance research across the full spectrum of disease and disability. NDRI provides human biospecimens to advance biomedical/bioscience research and development worldwide.

Under Collins’ leadership, NIH selected NDRI as a pilot tissue procurement partner for the NIH Common Fund’s Genotype-Tissue Expression Project. Through three phases of this initiative—including advancing as the sole biospecimen source site for the third phase in late 2015 to strengthen the study’s representation of all age groups—NDRI facilitated the collection of more than 80,000 biospecimens to increase understanding of how variation in gene expression contributes to common human diseases.

Hendrix also presented the Excellence in Research and Patient Advocacy Award to Preston W. Campbell III, M.D., president and chief executive officer of the Cystic Fibrosis (CF) Foundation. Under Campbell’s leadership, the foundation has worked to find new therapies and improve existing ones to help cystic fibrosis sufferers. Since 2004, the foundation has funded NDRI to provide a reliable source of human tissue from CF donors.

(From Valerie Owens for Shepherd University. Photos courtesy of Shepherd University).