The annual “Sammie” awards, handed out in the fall by the Partnership for Public Service, honor federal employees for their accomplishments. The Post is profiling the 30 finalists. The nonprofit partnership provided the names and descriptions.
Jacob E. Moss
Environmental Protection Agency
Helped bring more efficient stoves and cleaner-burning fuels to homes in developing nations
Moss, a senior adviser from the EPA who has been on detail at the State Department, conceived and played a major role in designing and building an innovative alliance of federal and international agencies, countries and corporations to protect the environment and save lives by bringing new technology — much cleaner and efficient cook stoves and fuels — to millions of homes.
The $800 million raised so far for the initiative is being used to meet a goal of improving 500 million lives in 100 million households by 2020, and to combat this major cause of indoor pollution, the fourth largest health risk in the world and the second largest for women and girls.
In 2002, Moss helped launch a small international partnership through the EPA to address the pollution caused by cook stoves. By 2007, that program was helping hundreds of thousands of people, but Moss recognized that solving this global issue demanded an international platform outside of government.
“He is the glue,” said Kris Balderston, former special representative for Global Partnerships at the State Department. “He is the guy who kept this going.”
Griffin P. Rodgers
National Institutes of Health
Developed drug treatments and stem-cell transplants for sickle cell disease
A preeminent researcher in the fight against sickle cell disease, Rodgers in the 1990s discovered the first effective drug treatment, which has eliminated much pain and suffering, and more recently developed a modified blood stem-cell transplant regimen that cured the disease in 26 of 30 adults participating in a lengthy clinical trial.
Robert Balaban, the scientific director at NIH, said the medical breakthrough from the sickle cell clinical trial announced in July 2014 is “huge.” Based on the work of Rodgers and John Tisdale, the principal investigator and Rodgers’s collaborator on the clinical trial, developments on the horizon could result in a cure for a broader segment of the afflicted population. Currently, there is no widely available cure.
Thomas Starzl, a physician and researcher who performed the world’s first liver transplant, described Rodgers’s work as “revolutionary.”
Sickle cell disease, an inherited blood disorder that affects an estimated 90,000 to 100,000 Americans and millions of people worldwide, can result in a lifetime of acute and chronic pain, organ damage, stroke, frequent hospitalizations and premature death.
Jean C. Zenklusen and Carolyn Hutter
National Institutes of Health
Mapped thousands of gene sequences for more than 30 types of cancer
Researchers at top medical institutions around the nation and the world have been making seminal breakthroughs in the diagnosis and treatment of some of the deadliest types of cancer, resulting in the development of new therapies and improved patient outcomes.
These discoveries are due in large part to the Cancer Genome Atlas, a joint project of the National Cancer Institute and the National Human Genome Research Institute that involves a dedicated team of federal employees and contractors, and more than 150 researchers working together at dozens of institutions nationally and internationally.
Now led by Zenklusen of NCI and Hutter of NHGRI, this nine-year initiative is the first comprehensive effort to create a detailed catalogue of the genomic changes associated with 33 types of tumors, including breast, stomach, lung, bladder, skin, colon, liver, kidney, cervical and prostate cancers. Since 2013, the mammoth initiative has surpassed its original goal, collecting nearly 11,500 specimens. This is providing scientists with critical information not previously available and has led to important discoveries and life-saving treatments.