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For his activism on behalf of people living with a disability or illness, his advocacy of medical research, and his personal courage, Christopher Reeve received the 2003 Mary Woodard Lasker Public Service Award. This prestigious award is given to individuals whose support of medical research and the health sciences leads to advances in medical care. 

Daniel Koshland, Chairman of the Public Service Selection Committee, praised Reeve for his role as an activist on behalf of others who are paralyzed, as well as those afflicted with a broad range of diseases. He highlighted Reeve’s persuasive testimony in the U.S. Congress on behalf of the National Institutes of Health (NIH); the formation, with his wife Dana, of the Christopher and Dana Reeve Paralysis Resource Center; his tireless efforts to bring his message to as many people as possible; and his willingness to take unpopular positions, citing his advocacy for stem cell research. Reeve was selected for this award by a jury of scholars and scientists.

“I am delighted and grateful to be the recipient of this year’s Lasker Public Service Award,” said Reeve. “As an advocate and as Chairman of the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation, I have had the privilege of working to improve the lives of people with disabilities and to seek better treatments and a potential cure for paralysis. The Lasker Awards recognize world-renowned scientists, physicians and public servants. It is an overwhelming honor for me to be included in such distinguished company.”

For 40 years, the Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation has vigorously supported the expansion of research at NIH into virtually every area of human health; educated the public on the importance of disease-based research; and recognized the research accomplishments of outstanding scientists. Attention and interest in these awards have helped to create ongoing public support for a national research effort. Since 1946, 120 Lasker Awards have been given to working scientists, to public figures in recognition of their efforts on behalf of research, and to journalists for excellence in science reporting. Sixty-six winners later received Nobel Prizes.

According to the Lasker Foundation, Reeve’s “personal commitment, star power, and desire and capacity to fully comprehend the complex political and scientific realities of medical research” make him a forceful advocate for scientific research and most deserving of this award.