24th Annual Bipartisan Congressional Awards Dinner

The Alliance for Aging Research held the 24th Annual Bipartisan Congressional Awards Dinner on Tuesday, September 26, 2017, at the Willard InterContinental Hotel. The Alliance proudly honored the following individuals for their contributions to advance the science of human aging:

Senator Tom Carper (D-DE) (2017 Claude Pepper Award for Advancing Healthy Aging Winner)

Tom Carper is the senior Senator from Delaware.

He served five years as a naval flight officer, served three tours of duty in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War, and continued to serve in the Naval Reserve as a P-3 aircraft mission commander until retiring with the rank of captain in 1991 after 23 years of military service.

In 1976, his career in public service began when he was elected to the first of three terms as Delaware’s state treasurer. In 1982, he was elected to represent Delaware in the U.S. House of Representatives. In 1992, after serving five terms as a U.S. Congressman, he became the 78th governor of Delaware. In January 2001, he stepped down two weeks early to become U.S. Senator for Delaware.

During almost 40 years of public service, Senator Carper has worked tirelessly to develop practical solutions to real problems. His ability to work across party lines has earned him a reputation for consensus-building that is unique in today’s political climate.

Today Senator Carper is the Ranking Member of the Environment and Public Works Committee, where he continues his focus on creating a healthier environment for all Americans and making steady, long-term investments in our country’s outdated transportation systems. He also serves on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee and the Finance Committee.

Learn more about the legacy of Claude Pepper, for whom this award has been named.

Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) (2017 Distinguished Public Service Award Winner)

Shelley Moore Capito was elected by the people of West Virginia to the United States Senate in 2014. She is the first female U.S. Senator in West Virginia’s history and was elected with the largest margin of victory for a Republican in state history – winning more than 62 percent of the vote and all 55 counties.

After serving West Virginia’s Second Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives for 14 years, and as a member of the West Virginia House of Delegates for four years prior, Shelley decided to run for Senate with the goal of being an even stronger voice for the Mountain State. She also saw an opportunity to restore order to a Senate stuck in gridlock for far too long.

Shelley believes that the challenges of our day demand bipartisan solutions and cooperation across the aisle to advance legislation that benefits West Virginia and the country as a whole.

Shelley serves on the Appropriations Committee, the Environment and Public Works Committee, the Rules and Administration Committee, and the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee. This committee portfolio puts Shelley in a strong position to create new opportunities in the Mountain State and fight for West Virginia coal, jobs, and families.

On the Senate Appropriations Committee, Shelley brings West Virginia’s voice to the table when our nation’s spending priorities are determined. She serves as Chairman of the Appropriations Committee’s Legislative Branch Subcommittee.

On the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, Shelley advocates for policies that protect vital West Virginia energy and manufacturing jobs and encourage investment in West Virginia’s highway infrastructure. She serves as Chairman of the EPW Committee’s Clean Air and Nuclear Safety Subcommittee.

On the Senate Commerce Committee, Shelley promotes rural broadband expansion to better serve states like West Virginia.

Shelley is committed to being accessible and responsive to the people of the Mountain State. She regularly travels the state to hear from and meet with West Virginians.

A lifelong West Virginian, Shelley was born in Glen Dale in the Northern Panhandle. She holds a B.S. in Zoology from Duke University and a M.Ed. from the University of Virginia. Shelley and her husband Charles L. Capito Jr. reside in Charleston. They have three adult children: two sons, Charles (wife Laura) and Moore (wife Katie), and one daughter, Shelley (husband Colin Macleod). They have also been blessed with four grandchildren: Celia, Charlie, Eliza and Rose.

Dr. Elizabeth Blackburn (2017 Silver Innovator Award Winner)

Nobel Prize-winning scientist Elizabeth Blackburn became President of the Salk Institute on January 1, 2016.

Dr. Blackburn is a pioneering molecular biologist. Since 2001 she had served as a Salk Non-Resident Fellow while she was a professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics at the University of California, San Francisco.

Dr. Blackburn won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2009 for discovering the molecular nature of telomeres, the ends of chromosomes that serve as protective caps essential for preserving genetic information, and for co-discovering telomerase, an enzyme that maintains telomere ends. Both telomeres and telomerase are thought to play central roles in aging and diseases such as cancer, and her work helped launch entire new fields of research in these areas.

In addition to the Nobel Prize, Dr. Blackburn has received nearly every major award in science including the Lasker, Gruber, and Gairdner prizes. She was named to the TIME 100 in 2007, the magazine’s yearly list of the most influential people in the world. She is a member of numerous prestigious scientific societies including the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Medicine, and the Royal Society of London. She has served as president of both the American Association of Cancer Research and the American Society for Cell Biology, and has served on the editorial boards of several scientific journals including the influential journals Cell and Science.

Helping to guide public science policy, she was a member of the Stem Cell Research Advisory Panel for the California State Legislature and a member of the President’s Council of Bioethics, an advisory committee to the President of the United States.

Dr. Elissa Epel (2017 Silver Innovator Award Winner)

Elissa Epel, Ph.D, is a Professor in the Department of Psychiatry, at University of California, San Francisco. She is the Director of the Aging, Metabolism, and Emotions Center. She studies psychological, social, and behavioral processes related to chronic psychological stress that accelerate biological aging, with a focus on the telomere/telomerase maintenance system. She also studies the interconnections between emotional processes, eating, and metabolism. With her collaborators, she is conducting clinical trials to examine the effect of mindfulness training programs on cellular aging, weight (including during pregnancy), and parenting stress for parents of children with developmental disorders. She leads or co-leads studies funded by NIA and NHLBI, including a Stress Measurement Network, and a multicampus center on obesity funded by UC Office of the President. She has been involved in National Institute of Aging initiatives on role of ‘stress’ in aging, and on reversibility of early life adversity, and on Science of Behavior Change. She is a member of the National Academy of Medicine, and a fellow of the Association of Psychological Science, and Academy of Behavioral Medicine Research. She is on the scientific advisory boards for the Mind and Life Institute, and the European Society of Preventive Medicine.

Epel studied psychology and psychobiology at Stanford University, and clinical and health psychology at Yale University. She completed a clinical internship at the Palo Alto Veterans Healthcare System and an NIMH postdoctoral fellowship at UCSF. Epel has received several awards including the APA Early Career Award and Academy of Behavioral Medicine Research Neal Miller Young Investigator Award.

The Honorable Tony Coelho (2017 Daniel Perry Founder's Award Winner)

Tony Coelho is a former United States congressman from California, and primary author and sponsor of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Tony was elected to Congress in 1978 and served for six terms until 1989. He served on the Agriculture, Interior, Veterans Affairs, and Administration Committees during his tenure, specializing in disabled rights.

In 1986, Tony was elected House Majority Whip. As the chief vote counter for his party, Tony oversaw a series of Democratic victories in the House on measures ranging from the budget to cutting off funds for the war in Central America.

Tony was the original author of the Americans with Disabilities Act, signed into law by President George H.W. Bush. By 1994, the U.S. Census Bureau reported that some 800,000 more people with severe disabilities had found employment than were employed when the bill was first enacted. Tony currently serves as the DNC Disability Council Chair, seeking to ensure that the political process is accessible to people with disabilities.

President Bill Clinton appointed Tony to serve as Chairman of the President’s Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities, a position he held from 1994 to 2001. He also served as Vice Chair of the National Task Force on Employment of Adults with Disabilities. In 1998, Clinton appointed Tony as the United States Commissioner General at the 1998 World Expo in Portugal. Clinton also appointed Tony as Co-Chair to the U.S. Census Monitoring Board, a position he held until his appointment as general chairman of the Gore presidential campaign.

In addition to formerly chairing Life Without Limits and the Disability Pride & Power Committee, he is the past chair of both the Epilepsy Foundation (2005-2007) and the American Association for People with Disabilities (2009-2011) Boards of Directors. He also served as the Acting President and CEO of the Epilepsy Foundation in 2011. In May, 2013, he co-authored an article for the American Journal of Public Health titled “Addressing Stigma Through Social Inclusion” with former First Lady Rosalynn Carter and former Surgeon General David Satcher.

In March 2009, Tony was named as Chairperson for the Partnership to Improve Patient Care (PIPC). In this capacity, Tony works to amplify the voice of the Partnership’s diverse members, including people with disabilities, racial and ethnic communities and the elderly, among others.

Tony participates annually at New York Law School for its Tony Coelho Lecture in Disability Employment Law & Policy. He has endowed a chair in Public Policy at the University of California in Merced and also in Neurology for Pediatric Surgery at UC-LA. He also serves as the patient stakeholder on the Stakeholder Advisory Group for the TVT Registry, which was created by The Society of Thoracic Surgeons and the American College of Cardiology as a benchmarking tool developed to track patient safety and real-world outcomes related to the transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) procedure.

Tony now makes his home in Rehoboth Beach, DE.