Cold Spring Harbor Lab's Double Helix honorees include Robin Roberts

"Good Morning America" host and breast cancer survivor "Good Morning America" host and breast cancer survivor Robin Roberts, as well as Barry Scheck and Peter Neufeld, founders of the Innocence Project, are this year's Cold Spring Harbor Double Helix Award honorees. (Oct. 15, 2013; Feb. 20, 2013) Photo Credit: New York Law Journal; AP

advertisement | advertise on newsday

Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory on Monday night will honor ABC's "Good Morning America" co-host and breast cancer survivor Robin Roberts along with lawyers Barry Scheck and Peter Neufeld, founders of the Innocence Project, a legal group that uses DNA to exonerate wrongfully convicted people.

The three have been selected to receive the eighth round of the Double Helix Medals, which recognize people who apply their talents toward "improving human health and changing the world for the better," organizers said.

The awardees will receive their medals at the laboratory's major fundraising event, held at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Manhattan. The event is expected to draw more than 500 people and is on track to raise about $3.7 million for cancer, autism and other biomedical research and education programs.

Past Double Helix Medal recipients include Muhammad Ali, Michael J. Fox, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Evelyn Lauder and John Nash.

In an email on Friday, Roberts said she is "grateful to CSHL for its research in cutting-edge solutions to cancer."

"They've earned respect in the medical community because their work leads to results," Roberts said. "What do I hope will come out of their research? That one day no one will ever have to hear: 'You have cancer.' "

Roberts, 52, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2007 and has been widely recognized for her public battle and advocacy for research.

In June 2012, she was diagnosed with a blood and bone marrow disease called MDS, or myelodysplastic syndrome, sometimes known as pre-leukemia. Again, her diagnosis and treatment were documented for her television audience. She partnered with "Be the Match" to raise awareness about the need for donors.

In September 2012, she received a bone-marrow transplant from her sister, Sally-Ann. Roberts returned to the anchor desk on Feb. 20 -- five months to the day she underwent the transplant.

Scheck and Neufeld in 1992 founded the Innocence Project, a nonprofit legal organization aimed at exonerating people using DNA, and taking the lessons learned from those exonerations to reform the criminal justice system.

In 1988, before DNA testing was used regularly in criminal cases, Scheck and Neufeld attended a meeting at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory where scientific experts already were talking about how to make DNA testing better, said Neufeld, 63, of Brooklyn.

To date, the group is credited with exonerating 311 wrongfully convicted people, 18 of whom were on death row.

"We would not have been able to save the innocent lives and free people wrongly convicted, as well as reduce the number of miscarriages of justice, but for the technology we learned through Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory," Neufeld said.

You also may be interested in: