2000 Kennedy Foundation International Awards to be Given at Gala Event in Seattle
Seattle, Washington | Wednesday, August 2, 2000
The recipients of the 2000 Kennedy International Awards in Mental Retardation – distinguished individuals and organizations whose extraordinary achievements have benefited the mentally retarded – will be honored in special ceremonies here today, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, Executive Vice President of the Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. Foundation, has announced.
The recipients will be honored from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. today at the Seattle Sheraton Hotel and Towers Grand Ballroom.
The awards were established in 1962 to recognize outstanding research, education, public policy, and advocacy that have improved the lives of people with mental retardation, and their families, throughout the world. President John F. Kennedy presented the first awards to pioneers in the field of mental retardation.
"We are so pleased to honor this year’s winners for their unique and far-reaching contributions to people with mental retardation and their families," Mrs. Eunice Kennedy Shriver said. "The winners are and have been driving forces in helping to create better lives and futures for people with mental retardation, and we salute them."
Each winner will receive a cash prize of $10,000, and a specially designed hand-made Varga crystal.
The Scientific Research Award: Dr. Richard Smithells, UK; Dr. Nicholas Walk, UK.
The Scientific Research Award is presented to an investigator who has made outstanding contributions to the knowledge of mental retardation in the biological or behavioral sciences and the application of that knowledge to the prevention and/or amelioration of mental retardation.
Two scientists share this year’s award. Both of these scientists led separate research teams that made significant contributions to proving that the B vitamin folic acid, if taken before and during the early weeks of pregnancy, can prevent serious neural tube defects, such as spina bifida and anencephaly. Dr. Smithells was the first to demonstrate that folic acid could reduce the incidence of these serious birth defects, many of which also resulted in mental retardation. Dr. Wald conducted major controlled studies that proved that folic acid was responsible for the decline in these birth defects among women with and without prior histories of pregnancies with neural tube defects.
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