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Inamori Prize Recipients

2009

Case Western Reserve University Awards 2009 Inamori Ethics Prize to Former U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights

Mary Robinson

The Inamori International Center for Ethics and Excellence at Case Western Reserve University has named global human rights, health care, sustainability and corporate responsibility advocate Mary Robinson the recipient of the 2009 Inamori Ethics Prize. A former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Robinson was also the first female president of Ireland and helped change the face of Anglo-Irish relations there.

Robinson is one of twelve members of Nelson Mandela’s organization, The Elders. Mandela says of this group, "Together we will work to support courage where there is fear, foster agreement where there is conflict, and inspire hope where there is despair."

Robinson is known most recently for her work with Realizing Rights: The Ethical Globalization Initiative. She founded the nonprofit to promote equitable trade, humane practices in the work environment, corporate responsibility and women’s leadership. "Mary Robinson embodies the ideal of global ethical leadership," said Shannon French, director of the Inamori International Center for Ethics and Excellence, which oversees the award’s selection process. "She is widely recognized as one of the most eloquent and passionate defenders of human rights in the world."

The Inamori Ethics Prize was first awarded in 2008, when Dr. Francis S. Collins, a physician-geneticist and leader of the Human Genome Project, was recognized at Case Western Reserve. The prize honors ethical leaders whose actions and influence have greatly improved the condition of humankind.

Professor of Practice in International Affairs at Columbia University, Robinson, 64, Chairs the GAVI Alliance Board to improve the health of children worldwide and is honorary president of Oxfam International. This spring, she served as Honorary Chair of the LIVESTRONG Global Cancer Summit.

After being presented with the Inamori Ethics Prize, Robinson will give a public lecture on "New Challenges to Human Rights in the 21st Century".

2008

Leading geneticist Francis Collins named first recipient of the Inamori Ethics Prize at Case Western Reserve University

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

Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D., a physician-geneticist and leader of the Human Genome Project, has been named recipient of the inaugural Inamori Ethics Prize from the Inamori International Center for Ethics and Excellence at Case Western Reserve University.

The Inamori Ethics Prize honors outstanding international ethical leaders. It is presented annually to an individual who has demonstrated exemplary ethical leadership and whose actions and influence have greatly improved the condition of humankind. The Inamori Ethics Prize carries with it a $25,000 cash award, intended to support the ongoing work of the prize recipient.

A ceremony recognizing Collins will be held in conjunction with an ethics and genetics symposium and lecture September 4, 2008 at Severance Hall, on the Case Western Reserve campus.

"Dr. Collins' reputation as a principled leader of the Human Genome Project and the understanding that the Human Genome Project holds enormous potential for the improvement of humankind, make him an ideal recipient of the first Inamori Ethics Prize," said Gregory L. Eastwood, M.D., director of the Inamori Center.

Noted for his landmark discoveries of disease genes, Collins serves as director of the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). His laboratory is dedicated to researching both rare and common diseases and has discovered a number of important genes, including those responsible for cystic fibrosis, neurofibromatosis, Huntington's disease, adult onset diabetes and Hutchinson-Gilford progeria syndrome, a dramatic form of premature aging.

Collins led the multi-disciplinary, multi-institutional Human Genome Project, an international effort to map and sequence the three billion letters in the human DNA, offering the first complete view of the "human instruction book." With its ultimate goal of improving human health, many consider the project to be one of the most significant scientific undertakings of our time. All the groundbreaking data are now available to the scientific community without restrictions on access or use.

Since the project's culmination in 2003, Collins has directed NHGRI's efforts to ensure that the important genetic data contained within the book are translated into powerful tools and thoughtful strategies to advance biological knowledge and improve human health.

Collins aims to open avenues for genome research to benefit the health of people living in developing nations, building on his own experiences as a physician volunteer in a rural missionary hospital in Nigeria.

"Throughout his long and distinguished career, Dr. Collins has consistently emphasized the importance of ethical and legal issues in genetics, while at the same time working tirelessly to improving the lives of people worldwide," said Eastwood.

According to the NHGRI, its supported initiatives currently include efforts to map human genetic variation, to develop less costly sequencing technologies and to unravel the genetics of cancer and other common diseases. Following the precedent set by the Human Genome Project under Collins' leadership, these projects are committed to making their data rapidly and freely available to the worldwide scientific community.

His book, "The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief" (Free Press, 2006), which broaches the interface between science and faith, spent several weeks on The New York Times bestseller's list.

Collins received a bachelor's degree in chemistry from the University of Virginia, a Ph.D. in physical chemistry from Yale University and his M.D. from the University of North Carolina. After an internal medicine residency at UNC and a genetics fellowship at Yale, he joined the faculty at the University of Michigan School of Medicine. He was appointed director of the National Center for Human Genome Research at NIH in 1993.

A member of the Institute of Medicine and the National Academy of Sciences, Collins has nearly 400 scientific publications in peer-reviewed journals, has received nine honorary degrees and in November 2007 was a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.