Ted Kaufman - United States Senator for Delaware

In a floor speech honoring the nation's federal employees, Sen. Kaufman applauds Dr. Douglas Lowy and Dr. John Schiller for their work at the National Institutes of Health Center for Cancer Research

June 3, 2009

Mr. KAUFMAN. Madam President, I would like to continue what I began last month by honoring the contribution of our Federal employees.

On May 4, I came to the floor to discuss the importance of recognizing the hard work and dedicated service of our Federal employees. This is especially important because of our recovery efforts during these challenging economic times. The programs we enact, it is easy to say, will be carried out by a Federal workforce that requires people's confidence. I know from personal experience how industrious and trustworthy civil servants are. The public needs to know too.

As I said then, we also need to encourage more of our graduates to enter careers in public service. America is blessed with so many enthusiastic and entrepreneurial citizens. We need them to lend their talents. We need their ideas, their creative minds. This is why I have made it a priority to honor excellent public servants and call attention to what Federal employees can and do accomplish.

In my previous remarks, I promised to highlight some of our excellent public servants from this desk every so often. In keeping with my promise, I rise to speak about two Federal employees whose achievements are particularly relevant to our work in this session: the current state of our health care system.

As many know, cervical cancer is the second most common cause of cancer deaths in women worldwide. It takes the lives of almost a quarter million women each year. Here in America, nearly 11,000 women are diagnosed annually.

What distinguishes cervical cancer from most other cancers is its cause. While many cancers are linked to a genetic predisposition for abnormal cell growth, nearly all cases of cervical cancer result from viral infections. The majority of these infections come from exposure to the human papillomavirus or HPV. HPV is the most common sexually transmitted disease affecting Americans.

When Dr. Douglas Lowy and Dr. John Schiller began studying HPV, little did they know that their 20-year partnership as researchers would lead to the development of a vaccine.

Working at the National Institutes of Health's National Cancer Institute Center for Cancer Research, the two discovered that previous attempts at creating a vaccine had failed because a genetic mutation existed in the virus, making it difficult for the body to produce antibodies against it.

Once Drs. Lowy and Schiller made this finding, they worked to create a modified version of the HPV without the mutation. This development is instrumental in the creation a few years ago of a vaccine that will prevent the vast majority of cervical cancer cases from developing.

Because over 80 percent of those who develop cervical cancer cases live in developing nations, Drs. Lowy and Schiller have been working with the World Health Organization to make the HPV vaccine available to women around the world.

In recognition of their achievement, the two men jointly were awarded the 2007 Service to America Federal Employee of the Year Medal.

Today, women and girls age 9 through 26 have the ability to be vaccinated against developing cervical cancer.

Once again, I call on my fellow Senators to join me in honoring Dr. Lowy and Dr. Schiller and all Federal employees who have distinguished themselves in their service of our Nation.

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