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Washington, D.C. – The Alliance for Aging Research and the National Institute on Aging (NIA) yesterday honored Florence Stephenson Mahoney (1899-2002), one of the nation’s foremost advocates for health research and a pioneer in the development of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), by dedicating a large open-air courtyard of the Mark O. Hatfield Clinical Research Center in her name.
Speakers at the dedication ceremony included Elias Zerhouni, MD, director of the NIH, Richard Hodes, M.D, director of the National Institute on Aging (NIA), Daniel Perry, executive director for the not-for-profit Alliance for Aging Research, and Robert Butler, M.D., first director of NIA and now president of the International Longevity Center. Often teamed with Mary Lasker, another advocate of federally funded medical research, Mrs. Mahoney is particularly remembered for her dedicated efforts in shaping national health science policy with respect to aging. One of her greatest achievements was her almost single-handed campaign to establish NIA within the NIH in the early 1970's. Mrs. Mahoney finally prevailed with Congress, and the NIA came into being in 1974, inaugurating a new era of research in the field of gerontology and health issues related to aging.
“During the three decades after World War II, Florence Mahoney worked tirelessly to encourage the federal government to allocate money for biomedical research and she was astonishingly successful,” said Daniel Perry, executive director of the Alliance for Aging Research. “It seems only proper for there to be a physical tribute to her within the walls of her greatest accomplishment.”
The courtyard, a beautifully landscaped area approximately 70 feet wide and 180 feet long, will also be home to a bronze, life-sized bust of Mahoney. Sponsored by the Glenn Foundation for Medical Research and the newly established Florence S. Mahoney Foundation, the bust is being designed by renowned sculptor Wm. Perry Carsley, whose work includes designs at the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C.
Congress called for Mrs. Mahoney’s memory to be honored by adding language to the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Bill for fiscal year 2003. The Congressional effort was lead by Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA), and Congressman Ralph Regula (R-OH).
”To the end of her long and rich life, Florence Mahoney was keenly interested in aging research and the NIA which she fought so hard to make a reality,” said Dr. Hodes. “She was imposing but warm, intelligent, inquisitive, and a charming woman.”
Mrs. Mahoney was 103 years and living in at her home in Georgetown, Washington, DC, old when she died in 2002. `The previous year, her biography titled Noble Conspirator: Florence S. Mahoney and the Rise of the National Institutes of Health, by Judith Robinson, was published by The Francis Press of Washington, D.C.
Founded in 1986, the Alliance for Aging Research is a nonprofit, independent organization dedicated to improving the health and independence of aging Americans through public and private funding of medical research and geriatric education. The Alliance combines the interests of top scientists, public officials, business executives and foundation leaders to promote a greater national investment in research and new technologies that will prepare our nation for the coming senior boom, and improve the quality of life for today’s older generation.