The chief executives of Moderna and Pfizer will receive the the Edward M. Kennedy Institute Award for Inspired Leadership for their roles in creating COVID-19 vaccines, the organization announced on Tuesday.
Stéphane Bancel of Cambridge biotech Moderna and Albert Bourla of New York-based Pfizer will be honored at the Kennedy Institute’s annual fundraising dinner on Dec. 2, where they will also participate in a conversation with Kristen Welker, chief White House correspondent at NBC News and “Weekend TODAY” co-anchor.
Victoria Reggie Kennedy, cofounder and board president of the institute, said her “late husband believed in the life sciences and biomedical research.”
“He also believed there should be affordable access to the benefits of that research for everyone,” she added. “How proud Ted Kennedy would be of our recognition of [Bancel] and [Bourla], truly extraordinary and inspirational leaders who have overseen the development of lifesaving vaccines that continue to save millions of lives here in the United States and around the world.”
The announcement of the award recipients comes as both drug makers, although more notably Moderna, have been under pressure to do more to ensure their vaccines are available to low- and middle-income countries.
It’s the second year in a row that the Kennedy Institute’s leadership award goes to people from New York and Massachusetts. Last year, Governor Charlie Baker and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo received the award for their responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. Cuomo resigned in August following an investigation by the New York attorney general’s office that found he had sexually harassed at least 11 women.
This year, the Kennedy Institute’s annual dinner will be held in hybrid fashion. Tickets range from $1,500 for individuals to up to $250,000 for sponsors, and packages include a mix of in-person and virtual tickets.