Service to America Medal: COVID-19 Response

headshot photo of Gary H. Gibbons, M.D., Director National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, and Eliseo J. Pérez-Stable, M.D., Director National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities

NIH Leaders Drs. Eliseo J. Pérez-Stable and Gary H. Gibbons receive prestigious Service to America Medal

December 20, 2021

Earlier this year, the Partnership for Public Service selected 29 exceptional federal employees as finalists for the Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medals (the Sammies). Among the esteemed group of finalists were Dr. Eliseo J. Pérez-Stable, director, National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) and Dr. Gary H. Gibbons, director, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI). 

On October 28, Drs. Pérez-Stable and Gibbons were announced as winners of the COVID-19 Response medal and accepted the award at a gala later that evening in Washington, D.C. The NIH leaders spearhead two major federal programs—RADx-UP and the Community Engagement Alliance (CEAL) Against Covid-19 Disparities to reduce the disparate levels of COVID-19 associated morbidity and mortality disparities experienced by underserved and vulnerable communities. This year, a COVID-19 Response medal was added to the Sammies to recognize the extraordinary efforts led by federal workers in response to the pandemic.

Dr. Barney Graham, who recently retired from his position as deputy director, Viral Pathogenesis Laboratory (VPL), National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), and Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett, former research fellow at NIAID, and now Shutzer Assistant Professor at Harvard Radcliff Institute, were also contenders in the COVID-19 response category. They received the top honor as 2021 Federal Employees of the Year award. Drs. Graham and Corbett were instrumental in conducting groundbreaking research that led to the development of highly effective vaccines for COVID-19.

The hour-long virtual ceremony aired on November 1 to salute all public servants and Sammies honorees.

The Sammies, which was renamed in 2010 for entrepreneur and Partnership founder Samuel J. Heyman, began in 2002 to recognize and celebrate the outstanding achievements in the public sector. Since then, it has honored over 660 federal employees.