Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) hosted the 14th annual Double Helix Medals dinner (DHMD) on November 6th, raising $4.5 million to support basic research. Held at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, the gala honored the contributions to scientific research and advocacy of Dr. Nancy Wexler and Boomer Esiason.
Dr. Wexler is the Higgins Professor of Neuropsychology in the Departments of Neurology and Psychiatry of the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University and President of the Hereditary Disease Foundation. Known for her important scientific contributions on Huntington’s disease, she has also been heavily involved in public policy, individual counseling, genetic research, and federal health administration.
“I am honored and humbled to receive the Double Helix Medal. Discovering the gene that causes Huntington’s disease unlocked many mysteries and opened up game-changing pathways of discovery,” Wexler said. “We are now seeing new breakthroughs that are bringing us closer to treatments and cures for Huntington’s and other devastating brain disorders. There has never been a more exciting time to be a scientist.”
Boomer Esiason is a former NFL quarterback, Walter Payton Man of the Year, and advocate for cystic fibrosis research. Esiason became a committed participant in the cystic fibrosis advocacy community after his son Gunnar was diagnosed with the genetic disease. In 1994, Esiason launched the Boomer Esiason Foundation, a dynamic partnership of leaders in the medical and business communities, to heighten awareness, education, and quality of life for those affected by cystic fibrosis, while providing financial support to research aimed at finding a cure.
“I am honored to receive CSHL’s Double Helix Medal,” Esiason said. “It is through institutions like CSHL and my own Boomer Esiason Foundation that we can support researchers as they work to prevent, manage, and cure illnesses like cystic fibrosis.”
CSHL President and CEO Bruce Stillman also discussed the Lab’s continuing dedication to science education. “The science education programs at CSHL are as world-renowned as our scientific research,” he said. “With continued support, we will cultivate educational opportunities for students across the five boroughs, throughout the United States and the world.”
The 2019 Double Helix Medals dinner was chaired by Ms. Jamie C. Nicholls and Mr. O. Francis Biondi Jr., Drs. Marilyn and James Simons, Mr. and Mrs. Robert D. Lindsay, Mr. and Mrs. Frank DellaFera, Mr. and Mrs. Jeffrey E. Kelter, and Mr. and Mrs. Paul Taubman. Since the first DHMD honored Muhammad Ali in 2006, the event has raised over $40 million for the Laboratory’s biological research and education programs.