by Karen Burbach, UNMC strategic communications | May 04, 2021 | Published in UNMC Today

The Nebraska Coalition for Lifesaving Cures recently honored three UNMC champions for their transformational impact on biomedical research during its 18th Annual Spring Tribute Luncheon.

During the April 26 online ceremony, Nebraska Cures presented:

  • The Live Saver Award to Bob and Helen Bartee of Omaha for the impact they’ve made through their passionate support of medical research. As vice chancellor for external relations at UNMC and the University of Nebraska at Omaha, Bob has been a leader in designing strategies for public policy advocacy and conveying the importance of lifesaving research. His success in directing tobacco settlement funds toward biomedical research and the state’s cigarette tax to cancer research has benefited countless Nebraskans. Helen’s advocacy roles in the community range from early childhood education to the Audubon Society of Omaha.

* The Dr. Harold & Beverly Maurer Scientific Achievement Award to Don Coulter, MD, professor in the UNMC Division of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology. The award recognizes a promising early career scientist or clinician. Dr. Coulter serves as director of the Pediatric Cancer Research Group, a multidisciplinary team identifying new cellular and molecular targets in childhood cancers for therapeutic interventions. He also serves as the Children’s Oncology Group Principal Investigator at UNMC.

Nebraska Cures — formed in 2000 as Nebraskans for Research before changing its name in 2007 — was created to protect critical research, boost science literacy and dispel scientific misinformation. That mission continues today, said Omaha businessman and past Nebraska Cures honoree Mike Yanney.

“It is important that this group continue to communicate facts about biomedical research to our politicians, community leaders and the community at-large,” Yanney said. “I don’t spend much time on Twitter or Facebook, but I know how much misinformation is out there in cyberspace.”

In introducing the Bartees, Yanney praised Bob for his tireless behind-the-scenes advocacy work. “Bob has been a champion of communicating the benefits of biomedical research throughout his decades-long career at UNMC.”

UNMC Chancellor Jeffrey P. Gold, MD, agreed, noting how the past 15 months have demonstrated the importance of science literacy and the need for scientifically accurate information upon which to make public health decisions.

During her keynote address, Mary Woolley, president of Research!America, also praised Nebraska Cures and its awardees for recognizing that a connection to the community is key to serving the public’s interest. “Imagining a better future is what we work for and what you work for,” she said. “We are all patients, and we all want better healthier futures.”