MAY 25TH, 2017, 6:30 PM to 10:30 PM 

With all the positive breakthroughs occurring in life science research, it is hard to imagine that public trust in the field is on the decline. In fact, public opinion on a number of issues contrasts sharply with the scientific evidence - look no further than the recent vaccination challenges. However, innovations in research depend on this trust, and NWABR knows that this requires openness, transparency, and honesty. It also requires a concerted effort to tell compelling stories and to advocate on behalf of biomedical research.

At the 2017 Speak Up for Research Gala we will highlight the need for better storytelling, stronger advocacy, and bridge building. We hope you join us to share your compelling story and to advocate strongly for biomedical research.

The NWABR Speak Up For Research Gala is a fundraiser for NWABR and more importantly it is an opportunity to celebrate success, reflect on the hard work being undertaken and look positively for the future.

The highlights of the Gala are the awarding of:

  • The Alvin J. Thompson Award that reflects high standing in the life science community with engagement in cutting edge research alongside a commitment to ethical research practices and the advancement of public trust in research.  The 2017 recipient of the Alvin J. Thompson Award is Dr. Steve Reed the Founder and CEO of the Infectious Disease Research Institute (IDRI).
  • Buster and Nancy D, Alvord Award that reflects recipients philanthropic contributions to the Northwest alongside their role as an advocate, educator, or donor in support of the local biomedical research community.  The 2017 recipient of the Buster and Nancy Alvord Award is Pride Foundation on behalf of Ric Weiland and his family. 
  • Honoring a select group of people who have provided exceptional service to NWABR.

NWABR is a 501(c)(3) organization.  Tickets for the Speak Up for Research Gala will be $95.00, and $65.00 of each ticket is tax deductible. 



If you would like to place your name on the reservation list, purchase a ticket, or sponsor a table, please contact Ken Gordon at executivedirector@nwabr.org or call 206-957-3337 to speak with someone from NWABR's friendly staff.

Proceeds from the gala support NWABR's educational work, engagement with students and the public, in support of NWABR's mission to promote the public's trust in biomedical research and its ethical conduct.



The Pride Foundation on behalf of Ric Weiland and his family.


Ric Weiland was the number two staff member at Microsoft and a very careful planner.  Mr. Weiland knew that he wanted to use the wealth that he was able to accrue during his life time to make a difference for LGBTQ communities.  He did an immense amount of research and found many organizations and non-profits working in the areas that he knew to be important.  These issues included same sex marriage and building the LGBTQ movement.  

Mr. Weiland also knew that for some organizations too much money could cause as many problems as too little.  Because of this concern, in his estate planning Mr. Weiland made his largest gift, a bequest of $170m, to Pride Foundation.  Mr. Weiland trusted Pride Foundation to give life to his bequest by gifting these funds in turn and in a planned way to ten organizations that he had identified that were making a difference to LGBTQ communities.

It is hard to overestimate the impact of these gifts.  In the space of the eleven years since his death, there have been huge improvements for the LGBTQ community on multiple fronts.

This award is being given especially though for the work that these gifts inspired around finding a cure for HIV.  These funds have been used by both Fred Hutch and OHSU to better understand HIV and ways to prevent and cure this disease.  

These funds were also used to help launch "Countdown for a Cure",  a project that aims to raise $100m for cure research.


Dr. Steve Reed the founder and Ceo of the Infectious Disease Research Institute.

As NWABR's founding president, Alvin J. Thompson, MD helped bring together diverse stakeholders from across the research spectrum as an integral part of our organization’s formation and leadership.  It was crystal clear back then that there was a need for the biomedical research community to be able to compellingly articulate the benefits achieved for the wider community. Dr. Thompson was a diplomat and proud member of the Institute of Medicine who remained active in this organization until his passing in May 2012, and who generated trust and respect in both the medical and broader community.

The Alvin J. Thompson Award was established in 2002. Recipients of this Award have achieved high standing in the life science research community. They are known for, or engaged in, cutting edge research, and have demonstrated a commitment to ethical research practices and the advancement of public trust in research. Notable recipients of this Award include Lee Hartwell, King Holmes, Bryan Druker, Francis Collins and Cynthia Pekow.

The 2017 recipient of this Award is Dr. Steve Reed the CEO and Founder of the Infectious Disease Research Institute (IDRI). His academic appointments include Professor of Medicine at Cornell University Medical College in New York and Research Professor of Pathobiology at the University of Washington. He serves on several editorial review committees, has served as a member of the Tropical Medicine Review Board of the National Institutes of Health, and has served as a member of diagnostic and vaccine steering committees of the World Health Organization.

Steve received his PhD in Microbiology and Immunology from the University of Montana in 1979. That year he was appointed as Scientist of the National Institute of Amazon Research in Manaus, Brazil, where he directed research on tropical diseases. Steve joined Cornell University Medical College in 1980 as Assistant Professor of Medicine, continuing to work in Brazil as manager of the Cornell-Bahia program in International Medicine. He joined Seattle Biomedical Research Institute in 1984 where he worked until founding IDRI in 1993.

In 1994, he co-founded Corixa Corporation (which was later sold to GlaxoSmithKline, GSK) where he served as Chief Scientific Officer until leaving in 2004. In 2008 Steve co-founded Immune Design Corp. where he served as CEO until 2011.

Steve's research interests have focused on the immunology of intracellular infections, and on the development of vaccines and diagnostics for both cancer and infectious diseases. He led the team that, together with GSK, developed the first defined tuberculosis vaccine to advance to clinical trials, and has developed the first defined vaccines for leishmaniasis, as well as the K39-based diagnostic tests currently licensed for leishmaniasis.

Steve has more than 250 original publications, 40 book chapters and reviews, and 105 issued patents on diagnostics, vaccines, and therapeutics of infectious diseases and cancer.

IDRI is approaching tuberculosis, which recently surpassed HIV as the world’s leading killer due to an infectious disease, in two ways:


IDRI’s TB vaccine candidate has been designed by IDRI scientists to recognize both active TB (when a person has TB disease, is infectious and is suffering from symptoms of the disease, such as fever, coughing and weight loss), and latent TB (when a person is infected with M. tuberculosis but is not symptomatic and is not infectious). The candidate, ID93 + GLA-SE, is composed of a recombinant fusion-protein antigen plus IDRI’s proprietary adjuvant, GLA-SE, and has been previously tested in humans. Conducted in the U.S., the first phase 1 trial assessed the safety, tolerability and immunogenicity of the vaccine in 60 healthy adult volunteers with no prior exposure to BCG or M. tuberculosis. The second Phase 1 clinical trial was conducted in South Africa in 66 healthy volunteers, who were BCG vaccinated, with or without latent infection with M. tuberculosis. Both studies showed that ID93 + GLA-SE is safe and elicits a multi-functional immune response. The vaccine is intended to boost the immune response elicited by BCG, and could be used both to prevent TB infection and as a post-exposure vaccine.

IDRI’s vaccine candidate has also shown additional potential advantages, including efficacy against both drug-resistant and drug-sensitive strains of M. tuberculosis in animal studies and has also demonstrated efficacy in drug-shortening regimens.

Currently the vaccine is in a Phase 2a trial in South Africa to clinically assess the ability of IDRI’s vaccine candidate to reduce TB recurrence after treatment. Even after successfully completing an anti-TB treatment regimen, patients may succumb to TB again, thereby threatening TB control programs by promoting spread and drug resistance. Prior Phase 1 clinical trials have shown that IDRI’s TB vaccine candidate boosts immune responses that may protect against TB recurrence.


Researchers in IDRI’s Tuberculosis Discovery program reached an important milestone: they have now screened more than half a million compounds, continuing the identification of new leads and drug targets for tuberculosis with the ultimate goal of producing new drugs to treat TB. IDRI is a founding member of the Lilly TB Drug Discovery Initiative – headquartered at IDRI – and the TB Drug Accelerator (TBDA). The Lilly initiative is a unique public-private partnership with Eli Lilly and Company and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), with a focus on the discovery of new anti-tuberculosis drugs. The TBDA was founded as a partnership of seven pharmaceutical companies and five other organizations, funded in part by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, to target the discovery of new TB drugs by collaborating on early-stage drug discovery for tuberculosis.





Buster and Nancy Alvord were and are great philanthropists in support of biomedical research and the arts in the Northwest. Importantly, the Alvord family did not just give money to support organizations; they also became involved as Board and Committee members, leading campaigns and raising public awareness of the causes that they supported. 

At NWABR we are sorely aware that the cause of biomedical research is not one in which mainstream philanthropy has a major role.  Many foundations step away from biomedical research because it is expensive, can be controversial, often has incredibly long pay back periods and, as those in pure science know, the knowledge gained may not directly have a viable use.

NWABR established the Nancy and Buster D. Alvord Award in 2014 in recognition of the fact that we need to commend those few brave foundations and individuals that step away from the pack to play in this field.  The first recipients of this Award were Nancy and Buster themselves. Last year the recipient was Kat Tiscornia a young woman with Ewing Sarcoma who both battled the disease and went on to raise over $500,000 to research better treatments for kids with cancer.

This year we have gone big – really big.  In 2013 Nike Founder Phil Knight, together with his wife Penny Knight, offered a $500.000 challenge grant to the Oregon Health and Sciences University.  The challenge they laid down was both simple and bold.  If the Oregon Health and Sciences University could raise a matching $500,000 then they would donate their share, allowing an even Billion dollars to be dedicated towards the clear and audacious vision of creating better methods of detecting lethal cancers at their earliest, most curable stages.  With the support of OHSU and 10,000 donors from Oregon and around the world this challenge was met on June 25, 2015, just 22 months after the campaign commenced.

OHSU has revolutionized the treatment of chronic myeloid leukemia with Gleevec®, the world's first targeted cancer treatment. For hundreds of thousands of people, CML is no longer a death sentence. Now they are going after other cancers as aggressively as they come after us.

Cancer never calls time out. The toughest challenges in medicine don’t hit pause. And neither does the Knight Cancer center at OHSU.  OHSU sees the success of the Knight Cancer Challenge as a mandate to use the momentum we created to take on even more challenges.

NWABR is very proud this year to present the Buster and Nancy D. Alvord Award jointly to OHSU, Phil and Penny Knight and the entire community of Oregon and thanks Dr. Tom Beer for receiving the Award on their behalf.   




It is with great pleasure that NWABR announces that the recipient of the award for 2016 is Dr. Charles (Chuck) Murry whom has epitomized the characteristics of an Alvin J. Thompson Award recipient through his lifetime commitment to biomedical research. 

Dr. Murry is a cardiovascular pathologist who has devoted his career to developing cures for heart disease - the number one cause of death in the U.S. For two decades Dr. Murry and his lab have studied the underlying mechanisms of, and potential treatments for, cardiovascular disease. Dr. Murry’s years of outstanding research have led to extremely promising new developments and successes using stem cells to regenerate cardiac muscle. Dr. Murry is recognized not only because of his exciting and groundbreaking work in this area, but also because he embodies the high ethical research standards that NWABR promotes and protects. As Dr. Richard Lee of the Harvard Stem Cell Institute and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston said, Murry “is an extraordinarily careful and thoughtful investigator. When work comes out of his lab it makes us all feel better because we know we can trust it.”

Dr. Murry received his MD and PhD from Duke University. His PhD focused on mechanisms of cell injury during myocardial ischemia and reperfusion, and included the first description of the phenomenon of ischemic preconditioning. Dr. Murry has been at the University of Washington since he began his residency in the Department of Pathology in 1989 and is a current UW Professor in the Departments of Pathology, Bioengineering and Medicine/Cardiology as well as the Director of the Center for Cardiovascular Biology and Co-director for the Institute for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine. He is founder of the Heart Regeneration Program (HRP) at the UW, which develops stem-cell therapies to combat the effects of heart disease.

Dr. Murry has also shared generously of his time and knowledge, mentoring over 100 undergraduate, pre and post-doc trainees, providing countless seminars, and authoring nearly 200 publications and book chapters.

His research has truly covered the spectrum from tissue culture to animal model to human clinical trials. Last year his lab received a $10 million grant from the Washington Research Foundation to pursue stem cell regeneration of heart tissue. 

Dr Murry’s work both inspires and gives hope everyone impacted by heart disease. He is an immensely deserving winner of this award.


NWABR Distinguished Service Awards

NWABR Distinguished Service Awards are giving to NWABR staff and Board members in honor of their personal contributions to the work of NWABR.  These Awards were instigated in 2016 and the inaugural recipients were:

Lee Schoentrup

James Riddle

Lynn Rose

Judy Fenyk-Melody



Previous Gala Awardees


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