April 24, 2018
Good evening and welcome to Villa Richardson.
I’d like to thank the Cura Foundation and the Stem for Life Foundation, under the leadership of Dr. Robin Smith, for making this reception possible.
I’d also like to acknowledge and welcome Dr. Francis Collins, the Director of the National Institutes of Health. Dr. Collins has led NIH since 2009, overseeing one of the world’s foremost biomedical and public health research centers. Thank you, Dr. Collins, for your long and dedicated service.
We are here tonight to honor Unite to Cure, a global health initiative that began just eight years ago. This week, leaders in medicine, business, media, and faith will gather at the Vatican to collaborate on improving health worldwide.
This is a unique conference – bringing physicians together with patients and philanthropists together with government officials to tackle some of the most pressing health challenges of our time.
Unite to Cure is also unique because it was created in partnership with the Catholic Church, the single largest provider of health care services in the world. It’s estimated today that the Catholic Church manages one quarter of the world’s healthcare facilities.
The Holy See, under the leadership of Pope Francis, is at the forefront of groundbreaking medical research.
I recently had the privilege of visiting Bambino Gesù, also known as the “Pope’s Hospital,” where I learned about their incredible work on genetic and rare diseases, immunology, and oncology and hematology.
The hospital recently had a breakthrough when a 4-year-old child with pediatric leukemia was cured by the genetic manipulation of immune-system cells.
Even more recently, cardiac surgeons at Bambino Gesù saved the life of a 3-year-old girl, whose heart was failing, by implanting a miniaturized heart pump. The device – the first of its kind – is meant specifically for infants and children, for whom existing devices were not effective. I am proud to note that this heart pump was developed with funding from NIH, and clinical trials will soon begin in the United States.
Beyond its incredible work on health and science, the Holy See, like the United States, has an impact on a range of global concerns, from religious freedom to human trafficking to conflict resolution.
The influence of the Holy See extends to over 1.3 billion Catholics worldwide and to millions of non-Catholics as well. Today, 183 countries have diplomatic relations with the Holy See – only the United States has a larger diplomatic presence in the world.
This global influence allows the Church to provide health care, gather information, and deliver messages in places traditional governments cannot reach. Working closely with the Holy See, our embassy serves as a global engagement post to promote peace, freedom, and human dignity.
The mission of Unite to Cure is no less ambitious. This week’s conference will aim to advance new technologies to improve health, prevent disease, and protect the environment – and will do so while considering cultural, religious, and societal factors.
Thanks to your efforts we are blessed to live in a time of unprecedented scientific and technological change – when medical breakthroughs occur on a regular basis and previously unimaginable discoveries are within our grasp.
Thank you and God bless.