- The Washington Times - Friday, October 12, 2001

The next book by noted psychiatrist and author Kay Redfield Jamison will be about "exuberance," she said at a dinner Tuesday night "Celebrating 50 years of Brain Research, New Discoveries and New Hope."
"It's a particularly American trait," explained the professor at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, who is best-known for writing about her own suffering from a manic-depressive disorder. "Americans uniquely appreciate the quality and its role in leadership and exploration."
Exuberance also might describe the evening's gathering at the Library of Congress, sponsored by the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health. Actor Christopher Reeve, recipient of a $2 million grant from the foundation for the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation, appealed in a vivid and passionate way for continued and coordinated research in the field.
Equally impressive, many at the event attested, was dinner chairman Deeda Blair, hailed as a patron of biotechnology for her activities in helping focus attention on this branch of medicine.
The foundation is a private support group for the National Institutes of Health, where a new building, called the John Edward Porter Neuroscience Research Center, will bring together in one place the many professionals engaged in work on disorders of the central nervous system. It is named for the former congressman (now a partner in Hogan & Hartson's Washington office), known for his efforts securing funding increases for biomedical research at NIH, one of the world's leading research organizations.
Few on the program could resist mention of the terrorist attacks that had taken place one month earlier. Dr. Jamison said beforehand that she has been busy helping professionals doing counseling work in the aftermath.
"These are very difficult times for all of us, times we will not begin to fathom for many years," she said in remarks to more than 200 guests seated at round tables in the Thomas Jefferson Building's Great Hall. "Grief and horror often bring us to the heart of life, for we come to know ourselves. We see all things as they are.
"Terror has forced upon us a view of reality neither sought nor welcome, a view that looks into the darkness of human capability, the fleeting nature of life and the finality of death. It is without question a profoundly disturbing view. Yet we are a resilient and optimistic people, and that is an importantly powerful gift."
In especially poignant remarks delivered from his wheelchair, Mr. Reeve told his audience that a "return to normalcy" in the face of recent terrorism was one thing for people in the arts, business, education and the travel industry. For the disabled, however, the term often is an unreachable goal. "We cannot feed, bathe or dress ourselves and must depend on others [while] watching our own bodies deteriorate," said the actor, who was paralyzed after a fall from a horse in 1995.
NIH's mission, he added, must be to think of "normalcy as a call to urgency" for patients who remain desperately hopeful for cures as their lives pass by. "Be safe," he told the physicians and medical researchers, "but then be bold, and we will be forever grateful."
VIP guests included Dr. Francis Collins, head of the NIH Human Genome Project; Dr. Richard Birkel, executive director of the National Alliance for the Mentally ill (NAMI); and Dr. Paul Greengard, a Nobel laureate neuroscientist. They were among many representatives of pharmaceutical organizations and distinguished members of the medical and biomedical worlds taking part in a midweek symposium on neuroscience and psychiatric disorders at NIH.
Major supporters of the cause included event sponsors Albert and Shirley Small and Hermen and Monica Greenberg as well as many of Mrs. Blair's longtime friends from the Washington social scene: grandes dames Marion "Oatsie" Charles and Polly Fritchey, George and Liz Stevens, Bitsey Folger and Dr. Sidney Werkman, Rep. John Dingell and Debbie Dingell, and Gerald and Eden Rafshoon, among them.
:"She never has to twist my arm. I'll do anything for her," said Polly Kraft, who reported for duty with husband Lloyd Cutler at her side.
All agreed it was a major turnout and "a real tribute to Deeda," as Buffy Cafritz pointed out while surveying the brainy-but-glamorous gathering with a practiced eye. Her pal's reputation as a catalytic force in medical research and fund raising, especially for cancer and AIDS, is a solid achievement, Mrs. Cafritz explained, one that far outshines her reputation as a society hostess and perennial Best Dressed List denizen.
There has never been a "more exciting time" for medical advances than right now, Mrs. Blair said later, citing "breathtaking" inroads in human genome research and impressive "new targets for drugs and vaccines for all kinds of diseases" including Alzheimer's, which no one would have thought possible a few years ago. "A great deal has been accomplished, but there is so much more to do," she said.

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