The NCI Director’s Awards & Appreciation Ceremony began with a video of NCI employees talking about their roles, whether in transportation, nursing, IT, or research. Many spoke of family members who have or had cancer, and all were proud to be able to contribute to NCI’s mission.
“We wanted to include your voices, and your stories in this program today,” said Peter Garrett, director of the Office of Communications and Public Liaison. “When it comes down to it, NCI is about all of us, the people who work here.”
Before handing the ceremony over to Dr. Douglas R. Lowy, deputy director and acting director of NCI, he warned that, over the next few weeks, camera crews would be making their rounds to capture more stories on video.
“We’ll let you see your video before using it,” he assured, “and only if you’re ok with it.”
Lowy began his remarks by introducing the new NCI Director, Dr. Norman E. Sharpless.
“We are here primarily to celebrate extraordinary achievements, but before we go to the honorees,” said Lowy, “I want to celebrate the extraordinary achievement of someone who has waited more than four months before being named as director of the NCI. Since Ned was named yesterday, I think it would be fitting for his first public appearance to be with all of us from NCI.”
Sharpless then offered a few words:
“An event like this, it’s the right place to start, because this is what makes the NCI work. It’s the people that drive it, and the people at NCI are extraordinary. I’ve had many people tell me I’m the 4th or 5th or 7th director that they’ve worked for. There’s this longevity and pride [at NCI], and it really shows.”
He handed the podium back to Lowy, who continued “by acknowledging the role all of us play every day in the contributions that so many of you make. The NCI staff exceeds expectations every day, and this is saying excellence is really what keeps the NCI moving.”
Earlier this year, the Office of Communications and Public Liaison developed the “Kudos Korner,” which is a place to acknowledge the achievements of NCI staff. Lowy encouraged employees to use it and nominate their peers for recognition. He then showcased the recent nominations, including his own with Dr. John T. Schiller (resulting in some laughs), as well as Dr. Laura Beane Freedman, Dr. Tracy Layne, and Dr. Mitchell Gail.
Then Lowy moved on to the Year in Review, giving a rundown of some of the highlights of the past year: the Beau Biden Cancer MoonshotSM Blue Ribbon Panel, the early phase trials demonstrating the shrinkage of pediatric neural tumors, the launch of the NCI drug formulary, the launch of Pediatric MATCH, and the announcement of breast cancer screening trials, among numerous other accomplishments and milestones.
From the Year in Review, the ceremony moved on to the award presentations, handed out according to division or office. Each division had several presenters for awards in the categories of Individual and Group Merit Awards, as well as Length of Service Awards. (For a full list of awardees, please click on this link.)
There was even a special Length of Service Award presented that wasn’t listed in the program. Dr. Glenn Merlino, scientific director for Basic Research, bestowed a special Center for Cancer Research Length of Service Award to Dr. Thomas A. Waldmann for his 60 years of service, saying “this is someone who epitomizes what the CCR and NCI are really all about.”