On November 9, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) held its 17th annual Double Helix Medals dinner (DHMD) at the Museum of Natural History in New York City. This year’s gala honored Pfizer Chairman and CEO Dr. Albert Bourla and 2020 Nobel laureate Dr. Jennifer A. Doudna. CBS journalist Lesley Stahl returned to emcee the event, which raised a record $5.8 million for biological research.
Dr. Bourla spearheaded Pfizer’s efforts to develop a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine. The company delivered the first FDA-approved vaccine in only eight months. This process usually takes about eight to 10 years. Bourla is now focusing Pfizer’s resources across a wide range of therapeutic areas. These include cancer, cardiovascular disease, and inflammatory conditions.
“What excites me the most about Pfizer’s impact on global health is the scale,” Bourla says. “We are changing patients’ lives. We are giving hope to people, hope for science—and that’s something that gives us a lot of pride.”
Dr. Doudna earned the 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for the development of CRISPR-Cas9. This groundbreaking tool allows scientists to precisely edit DNA. It has revolutionized human and agricultural genetics research. Following CRISPR’s widespread adoption, Doudna has emerged as a leading voice on the ethical implications of gene editing.
“When I think about new therapeutics that are only possible using CRISPR technology, I’m thinking about ways that we can not just treat a genetic disorder chronically, but can provide a one-and-done cure,” Doudna says. “That’s so transformative for patients.”
The 2022 DHMD was chaired by Ms. Jamie Nicholls and Mr. O. Francis Biondi, Ms. Barbara Amonson and Dr. Vincent Della Pietra, Drs. Pamela Hurst-Della Pietra and Stephen Della Pietra, Mr. and Mrs. John M. Desmarais, Ms. Elizabeth McCaul and Mr. Francis Ingrassia, Mr. and Mrs. Jeffrey E. Kelter, Dr. and Mrs. Tomislav Kundic, Mr. and Mrs. Robert D. Lindsay, Ms. Ivana Stolnik-Lourie and Dr. Robert Lourie, Dr. and Mrs. Howard L. Morgan, and Drs. Marilyn and James Simons.
Since the inaugural gala in 2006, the DHMD has raised over $50 million to support CSHL’s biological research and education programs. Notable past honorees include Muhammad Ali, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Alan Alda.