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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release June 11, 1997


President Clinton announced today that Richard Garwin, Mortimer Elkind and H. Rodney Withers are winners of the Enrico Fermi Award. The presidential award, carrying a $100,000 honorarium and a gold medal, is the government's oldest science and technology award. It is given for a lifetime of achievement in the field of nuclear energy.

Garwin, a physicist, is Fellow Emeritus at IBM Research, Yorktown Heights, NY, and a consultant to the Department of Energy's Sandia National Laboratory, Albuquerque, NM. Elkind is a cell biologist at Colorado State University and Withers is an oncologist at the Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of California at Los Angeles.

Garwin, 69, will receive the award for his contributions to a wide range of problems in science, technology and national security policy. These achievements have been as diverse as fundamental physics of condensed matter, elementary particles and fields; nuclear weaponry, gun and bomb sights; and practical applications such as laser pinters, computer touch screens, medical imaging equipment, the global positioning system and superconductors. He was cited also for his participation in the formulation of national security policy. He continues to provide technical and policy advice across the field of national security and arms control.

Elkind, 74, and Withers, 64, are sharing the award for their work describing the response of normal and malignant cells to ionizing radiation, thus establishing a scientific basis for radiation therapy of cancer. Elkind, a basic scientist, worked with Withers, a practicing doctor, to develop the "fractionation hypothesis" that demonstrated the value of spreading out the dose of the radiation treatment over time for best therapeutic effect.

"I am honored to recognize these researchers," said President Clinton. "Their lifetime work provides an example of how science benefits the work and personal lives of Americans on a daily basis. These three men can inspire the young people of this Nation who want to pursue a scientific career." President Clinton approved the awards upon the recommendation of the Secretary of Energy after the evaluation of candidates by a screening panel and an interagency awards committee.

"These men have done extraordinary work and more than deserve this recognition of their scientific achievement," said Secretary of Energy Federico F. Pena. "Excellence in science and technology is the foundation for a strong future for our Nation." The Department of Energy administers the Fermi Award for the White House. Secretary Pena will present the awards on July 24 in a ceremony in Washington, D.C.

The Fermi Award, which dates to 1956, honors the memory of Enrico Fermi, leader of the group of scientists who, on December 2, 1942, achieved the first self-sustained, controlled nuclear reaction at the University of Chicago. Among the first recipients were physicists John von Neumann, Ernest O. Lawrence, Hans Bethe, Edward Teller and Robert Oppenheimer. Through the years, nuclear science has broadened and now contributes to such diverse fields as medicine, astronomy, archeology and environmental science. The award was given most recently in 1995 to physicist Ugo Fano and chemist Martin Kamen.

Garwin was born in Cleveland, Ohio and received his Ph.D. in physics from the University of Chicago where he worked with Enrico Fermi. He spent most of his career at IBM Research and was a consultant to the Department of Energy's Los Alamos National Laboratory until 1993. He has taught at Columbia, Harvard and Cornell Universities. His advice to the government over the years has included serving on the President's Science Advisory Committee and chairing its Military Aircraft Panel and Anti-submarine and Naval Warfare Panels.

Elkind was born in Brooklyn, NY and earned his Ph.D. in physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He has worked at the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, MD, and the Donner Laboratory at the University of California at Berkeley. From 1969 to 1973, he worked at Brookhaven National Laboratory and then worked at Argonne National Laboratory until 1981. He was also Professor of Radiology at the University of Chicago. Currently he is University Distinguished Professor at Colorado State University 's department of Radiological Health Sciences.

Withers was born in Queensland, Australia. He received his medical degrees from the University of Queensland and from the Royal Australian College of Radiologists. He received his Ph.D. and Dsc. degrees from the University of London. He has worked at the Gray Laboratory in Middlesex, England, the National Cancer Institute, the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, the Prince of Wales Hospital in Sydney, Australia, and UCLA's Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, where he served as interim director in 1994 and 1995. Currently he is Chair of the Department of Radiation Oncology at UCLA where he also holds the American Cancer Society Clinical Research Professorship.

Detailed information on the winners and their contributions is available from the Department of Energy press office at 202/586-5806.