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Past 2006 Andrus Award Winners

Dr. Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D

Former Director of the National Human Genome Research Institute

Francis S. Collins is a physician-geneticist noted for his discoveries of disease genes. He served as director of the National Human Genome Research Institute at the National Institutes of Health. Dr. Collins left the program on Aug. 1, 2008, to pursue writing projects.

At NIH, Dr. Collins oversaw the Human Genome Project, the multidisciplinary, multi-institutional, international effort to map and sequence the 3 billion letters in the human DNA instruction book. Under his leadership, the Project attained historic milestones while consistently running ahead of schedule and under budget. Dr. Collins and his team finished the sequence in April 2003, coinciding with the 50th anniversary of Watson and Crick’s seminal publication describing the double helix structure of DNA.

Dr. Collins has frequently asserted that exploration of the genome is really just beginning. Building upon the foundation laid by the Human Genome Project, researchers worldwide are collaborating on projects using genomic tools and technologies to expand understanding of human biology and combat human disease. Following the precedent set by the Human Genome Project, these projects are committed to making their data rapidly and freely available.

Dr. Collins rose to the top tier of medical and scientific research from his childhood on a small farm in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. He earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from the University of Virginia in 1970, a Ph.D. in physical chemistry from Yale University in 1974, and an M.D. from the University of North Carolina in 1977. After his residency, Dr. Collins held several academic and research positions and made a series of breakthrough discoveries in genetics. His team, together with collaborators, isolated the genes responsible for cystic fibrosis, Huntington’s disease, neurofibromatosis, multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1, and the M4 type of adult acute leukemia.

Joining NIH in 1993, Dr. Collins continued what he has called “an adventure that beats going to the moon or splitting the atom.” In 2003, he led a team that identified the genetic basis of Hutchinson-Gilford progeria syndrome, a rare disorder that causes a dramatic form of premature aging. Besides opening the door to possible treatment strategies for progeria, the discovery may provide insights into the process of normal human aging.

Dr. Collins and his colleagues also published a landmark study in the journal Science on genetic variants associated with type 2 diabetes.

Known for his scrupulous attention to ethical and legal issues in genetics, Dr. Collins has been a strong advocate for protecting the privacy of genetic information. He has served as a national leader in efforts to prohibit gene-based insurance discrimination.

His accomplishments have been recognized by numerous awards and honors, including Dr. Collins’ election to the Institute of Medicine and the National Academy of Sciences, and this year, receiving AARP’s highest honor, the Andrus Award.

Tom Brokaw

NBC News Special Correspondent

Although in 2004, Tom Brokaw (born Feb. 6, 1940) retired after 21 years as the venerable anchor and managing editor of “NBC Nightly News”, he continues to report and produce long-form documentaries and provides expertise on breaking news. Recently he also became interim moderator of “Meet the Press” after the death of long-term host Tim Russert.

In 2006, Brokaw reported on race and poverty in “Separate and Unequal”. The report took an honest look at the progress that’s been made, and the problems that persist, 40 years after the civil rights movement. He documented how the people of Jackson, Miss., struggle every day with the ongoing issues of race in America. He also reported on illegal immigration in “Tom Brokaw Reports: In the Shadow of the American Dream&dquo;, exploring the economic realities, the social consequences, and the political controversies surrounding one of the hottest topics dividing the country today. Brokaw was the only network evening news anchor to report from Normandy, France, during the D-Day 60th Anniversary ceremonies in June, 2004. He conducted exclusive interviews with French President Jacques Chirac in Paris and President George W. Bush at the American Cemetery at Normandy Beach in Colleville-sur-Mer, France, on June 6, the 60th Anniversary of D-Day.

The NBC News anchor also has a distinguished record as a political reporter. He has covered every presidential election since 1968 and was NBC's White House correspondent during the national trauma of Watergate (1973-1976).

In 1998, Brokaw became a best-selling author with the publication of “The Greatest Generation”. Inspired by the mountain of mail he received from his first book, Brokaw wrote “The Greatest Generation Speaks” in 1999. He is also the author of “An Album of Memories“ and “A Long Way from Home”, a reflective look about growing up in the American heartland. In 2007, his book “Boom! Voices of the Sixties”, was published.

Brokaw began his journalism career in 1962 at KMTV in Omaha, Neb. He anchored the late-evening news on Atlanta's WSB-TV in 1965 before joining KNBC-TV in Los Angeles. He was hired by NBC News in 1966, and from 1976-1981 he anchored NBC News’ “Today” program.

General Colin L. Powell

Colin L. Powell (born April 5, 1937) was nominated by President Bush on Dec.16, 2000 to be Secretary of State. After his unanimous confirmation by the U.S. Senate, he was sworn in as the 65th Secretary of State on Jan. 20, 2001. Prior to his appointment, General Powell was the chairman of America’s Promise - The Alliance for Youth, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to mobilizing people from every sector of American life to build the character and competence of young people.

General Powell was a professional soldier for 35 years, during which time he held myriad command and staff positions and rose to the rank of four-star general. His last assignment, from Oct. 1, 1989 to Sept. 30, 1993, was as the 12th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the highest military position in the Department of Defense. During this time, he oversaw 28 crises, including Operation Desert Storm, in the victorious 1991 Persian Gulf War.

Following his retirement, Secretary Powell wrote a best-selling autobiography, “My American Journey”, which was published in 1995. Additionally, he pursued a career as a public speaker, addressing audiences across the country and abroad.

General Powell was raised in the South Bronx. His parents, Luther and Maud Powell, had immigrated to the United States from Jamaica. General Powell was educated in the New York City public schools, graduating from the City College of New York (CCNY), where he earned a bachelor’s degree in geology. He also participated in ROTC at CCNY and received a commission as an Army second lieutenant upon graduation in June 1958. His further academic achievements include a Master of Business Administration degree from George Washington University.

General Powell is the recipient of numerous U.S. and foreign military awards and decorations. General Powell’s civilian awards include two Presidential Medals of Freedom, the President’s Citizens Medal, the Congressional Gold Medal, the Secretary of State Distinguished Service Medal, and the Secretary of Energy Distinguished Service Medal. Several schools and other institutions have been named in his honor, and he holds honorary degrees from universities and colleges across the country.

General Powell is married to the former Alma Vivian Johnson of Birmingham, Ala. The Powell family includes a son Michael; daughters, Linda and Anne; daughter-in-law Jane; grandsons Jeffrey and Bryan and grand-daughter Abigail.


Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland

A Physician, former Prime Minister of Norway (the youngest person and the first woman ever to hold the office of PM), former Chair of the World Commission on Environment and Development and Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO)

Dr. Dorothy I. Height

Chair and President Emerita of the National Council of Negro Women (NCNW), has fought for equality for nearly half a century and a winner of the Congressional Gold Medal (the highest civilian and most distinguished award presented by the United States Congress)


Arthur Levitt

25th Chairman of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, former Chairman of the American Stock Exchange (AMEX), 1978-1989

The Honorable David Pryor

Former U.S. Senator (AR), former Governor of Arkansas, Chairman of the Special Committee on Aging (during the 101st through 103rd Congresses)


The Honorable Shirley Chisholm

Author and first black woman elected to the U.S. House of Representatives (NY), served for 14 years in the House


Eileen Ayvazian

Volunteer and public health nurse and seniors’ advocate, running clinics in Virginia Beach, Virginia, serves on the boards of the local American Cancer Society, the local hospice, and the Alzheimer's organization

Mabel Clare Proudly

Volunteer attending to the medical and education needs of children on the Texas/Mexico border


Ethel Armbrush

Executive director of the Developmental Enterprise Corporation, which promotes the general welfare of all persons with mental retardation

Oseola McCarty

A woman of limited financial resources, who at 86, contributed her life’s savings ($150,000) to finance scholarships for African American students at the University of Southern Mississippi


Father Joe Carroll

Founder of St. Vincent de Paul/Joan Kroc Center, a multiple service housing facility for needy men, women and families in the San Diego Area

Joyce Oatman

A Chicago teacher working with gifted and talented children in neglected school districts


Sister M. Isolina Ferré

Born in Puerto Rico and graduating from Fordham University, founder of a comprehensive community-based multi-service youth programs in Puerto Rico, New York City, and the Appalachia area in the eastern U.S.

Henry Viscardi, Jr.

Founder of Abilities, Inc., a company run entirely by severely disabled workers, one of the world's leading advocates for the rights of the disabled, advising every US president from Franklin D. Roosevelt to Jimmy Carter, founded a well-known center for disabled adults and children in New York, The National Center for Disability Services, establish a rehabilitation program for disabled veterans at Walter Reed Army Hospital, Washington, D.C.


Robert M. Ball

Former U.S. Commissioner of Social Security Administration from 1962 to 1973, his responsibilities included setting up Medicare and administering it during its first seven years of operation

Clara McBride Hale

Founder of Hale House, Harlem refuge for drug-addicted babies and infants infected with HIV, believed, unconditionally, that all children, from all walks of life and circumstances, need and deserve love


Ruth Lana

AARP founding member and educator

Hugh Downs

Writer and broadcast journalist, TV icon and legend, was a popular host of the Today Show and 20/20. Downs was a special consultant to the United Nations for refugee problems from 1961-64 and served as Chairman of the Board of the United States Committee for UNICEF


Dr. Lena F. Edwards

Physician and educator, who used her medical degree to better the lives of people from Jersey City, New Jersey to Hereford, Texas, in Texas while on missionary work founded a martnity hospital for Mexican migrant farm workers

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