News Release

Friday, October 21, 2011

NIH honored for employment of people with disabilities

The National Institutes of Health Clinical Center is the recipient of the 2011 Employer Leadership Award from the Maryland Division of Rehabilitation Services, an agency of the Maryland State Department of Education. The award is in honor of the NIH Clinical Center’s pilot NIH-Project SEARCH program, which graduated 12 young adults with disabilities from a 30-week unpaid internship in June.

"The success of this program is both in the tangible work these individuals have delivered and in the impact they have had on the culture of the hospital," said Clinical Center Director Dr. John I. Gallin. "They have opened people’s minds to the possibility and benefit of employment of people with disabilities."

Denise Ford, chief of hospitality services, led the pilot program and accepted the award on the Clinical Center's behalf on Oct. 18.

"We presented the opportunity, but the interns stepped up and made the most of it," Ford said. "That is what made this program successful."

Project SEARCH works with hospitals and businesses in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia to provide opportunities for young adults with disabilities to learn employability skills and gain work experience.

The NIH Clinical Center partnered with The Ivymount School in Rockville, Md., and SEEC, a Montgomery County adult service provider, to welcome the interns to various roles in 13 departments. Eight of the 12 interns were offered full-time employment upon graduation.

"With support of our colleagues from across the NIH, we were able to create a sustainable future for a terrific program," said NIH Clinical Center Chief Operating Officer Maureen Gormley, who has been a strong champion of this effort.

The NIH has continued this partnership with a 2011-2012 class of 10 Project SEARCH interns at nine NIH institutes and centers.

The Maryland Division of Rehabilitation Services Employer Leadership Award is presented for remarkable leadership in promoting the employment, independence and economic self-sufficiency of individuals with disabilities. The award was presented at the Maryland Rehabilitation Association/Maryland Division of Rehabilitation Services’ annual conference in Ocean City.

About the NIH Clinical Center: The NIH Clinical Center is the 240-bed clinical research hospital for the National Institutes of Health. Through clinical research, clinician-investigators translate laboratory discoveries into better treatments, therapies and interventions to improve the nation's health. For more information, visit

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation's medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit

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