The Will Rogers Institute is a program of the Will Rogers Motion Picture Pioneers Foundation, a A charitable foundation in the USA named after one of the greatest humanitarians, philanthropists and entertainers that ever lived, Will Rogers. Originally a hospital for tuberculosis-stricken Vaudevillians, The Will Rogers Memorial Hospital (established in 1936) became a national training facility for doctors treating patients with tuberculosis. Building on that foundation, the Will Rogers Institute is today a national charitable health program focused on research of debilitating lung disorders, medical school training fellowships, distribution of free health education materials to the general public. For over 30 years, the Will Rogers Institute has been a leader in health-related public service announcements that appear on movie screens and television and heard on radio stations across the United States and provides free health booklets and materials. The Institute recently became a national leader in providing life saving neonatal ventilator equipment to hospitals across the country.
The Institute awards an Annual Prize for Research to scientists who have made seminal contributions to the understanding or treatment of pulmonary diseases. The Prize includes a $50,000 cash award. Initiated in 2007, the Annual Prize for Research has been awarded three times.
Francis Collins, present director of the NIH, was the first to receive the prize, which honored his discovery of the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator encoding gene CFTR, mutated in cystic fibrosis, a genetic disease commonly found in Caucasian populations and often accompanied by severe pulmonary manifestations.