Meeting News

Biden: Cancer moonshot has ‘evolved from program to movement’

International and private sector collaboration, as well as the $1.8 billion in federal funding directed toward the NIH as part of the 21st Century Cures Act, are two major accomplishments of the national cancer moonshot initiative achieved in the past year, according to former Vice President Joe Biden.

Former President Barack Obama announced the launch of the national cancer moonshot initiative during his State of the Union address in January 2016. Biden — whose son, Beau, died of glioblastoma multiforme the prior summer — is leading the effort.

Joe Biden

Biden — who heralded the moonshot during an address at last year’s American Association for Cancer Research Annual Meeting — addressed the same conference today to discuss progress that has been made in the past year and outline future directions of the initiative.

“This past year was remarkable for the cancer research and care community, largely because of the leadership Biden provided through the cancer moonshot initiative,” Nancy E. Davidson, MD, past president of AACR and executive director of oncology at Fred Hutchison/University of Washington Cancer Consortium, said during the session. “This initiative could not have come at a better time because, as the vice president pointed out throughout 2016, we are at an inflection point in cancer research, which is the result of decades of dedicated efforts of all of you to increase our knowledge and understanding of the more than 200 diseases of cancer.”

At last year’s meeting, Biden highlighted several challenges that cancer researchers face, including the time-consuming grant proposal process and the fact cancer data are stored in “silos” rather than being shared.

“What a difference a year makes,” Biden said. “With the expertise of many in this room, we set out to reimagine and to resource the system and change the culture so that we can make even greater progress against this terrible disease. For decades, we thought we could tackle cancer one discipline at a time. But, that is not how cancer operates. Cancer uses every tool at its disposal, it hides from the immune system, it builds its own blood supply, it uses viruses to spread, and it knows how to spread through the body using pathways and mutations we don’t fully understand even at this moment. The cancer never gives up, it never surrenders. And that is why we have to use every discipline cancer does, and we are starting to do that in a more coordinated way.”

Originally, Biden said, the moonshot was about doing two things — emphasizing the urgency of the fight to double the rate of progress, and to change the culture and come up with a new strategy.

In the last year, 80 new actions and collaborations have been launched to achieve these goals and deliver results to patients sooner. For example, the Department of Veterans Affairs has entered into a cooperation with the Department of Energy to generate a dedicated network, and VA cancer data are now accessed by the Department of Energy supercomputers.

Access to cancer clinical trials also has been improved with streamlined information available on clinicaltrials.gov.

“In the time we’ve had, I think we were able to get a running start, but we are nowhere near finishing the race,” Biden said. “We have been overwhelmed by the public interest in the cancer moonshot, and the desire for people all over the world to be a part of it. The moonshot has evolved from a program to a movement. As a result of that movement, we are able to identify and grow new approaches to data sharing and access to care and prevention programs.”

As part of this initiative, 10 memoranda of understanding have been signed with nine countries to share and collate data and help in the fight against cancer, helping break down the silos of research and data that Biden discussed at last year’s meeting.

Eighty private sector companies and organizations have also reached out to cooperate, including IBM to share their Watson supercomputer, and Amazon to share their cloud data storage capabilities.

The second major advance in the last year was the signing of the 21st Century Cures Act into law on Dec. 13, Biden said. The legislation aims to provides $1.8 billion to bolster the cancer moonshot initiative over the next 7 years, including $300 million for the current fiscal year.

“This particular piece of legislation is a down payment for us to use to realize Biden’s goal of accelerating the fight against cancer,” Davidson said. “The Beau Biden Cancer Moonshot initiative will marshal resources across both the federal government and private sector to achieve the moonshot’s mission to make a decade of progress in 5 years in preventing, diagnosing and treating cancer.”

The bipartisan support for this legislation reflects the fact that cancer research is a priority for millions of Americans, Biden said.

“Our work is nowhere near done,” he said. “We have to make sure we’re investing funds in ways that support breakthroughs in way the blue ribbon panel imagined. We need to prioritize ... [and] to demonstrate that we are using dollars wisely.”

The Biden Cancer Initiative will be launched soon to carry out these goals, change the cancer research culture, and help to continue to break down the siloes that exist, Biden said.

“But there is a new problem,” Biden said. “The message sent out a few weeks ago in President Trump’s budget is counter to this hope and the progress we’ve made. We’re on the cusp of delivering decades of research to develop new technologies and therapies, on the cusp of saving and extending lives of Americans. The president is not only not doubling down on our investment, he is proposing draconian cuts to the entire scientific expertise across the board. ... This would set the NIH budget back 15 years.”

One estimate is that the proposed cuts would reduce NIH grants in 2018 by 90%, Biden said.

“This is no time to undercut progress,” Biden said. “It is not time to let up. It’s time to double down, to ensure we deliver on the progress in science and technology to extend and improve lives. Our work and our endeavor still matters a great deal. We can provide real hope for patients, hope in the progress against cancer. So let’s keep it going, because this is no time to stop the momentum.” – by Alexandra Todak

International and private sector collaboration, as well as the $1.8 billion in federal funding directed toward the NIH as part of the 21st Century Cures Act, are two major accomplishments of the national cancer moonshot initiative achieved in the past year, according to former Vice President Joe Biden.

Former President Barack Obama announced the launch of the national cancer moonshot initiative during his State of the Union address in January 2016. Biden — whose son, Beau, died of glioblastoma multiforme the prior summer — is leading the effort.

Joe Biden

Biden — who heralded the moonshot during an address at last year’s American Association for Cancer Research Annual Meeting — addressed the same conference today to discuss progress that has been made in the past year and outline future directions of the initiative.

“This past year was remarkable for the cancer research and care community, largely because of the leadership Biden provided through the cancer moonshot initiative,” Nancy E. Davidson, MD, past president of AACR and executive director of oncology at Fred Hutchison/University of Washington Cancer Consortium, said during the session. “This initiative could not have come at a better time because, as the vice president pointed out throughout 2016, we are at an inflection point in cancer research, which is the result of decades of dedicated efforts of all of you to increase our knowledge and understanding of the more than 200 diseases of cancer.”

At last year’s meeting, Biden highlighted several challenges that cancer researchers face, including the time-consuming grant proposal process and the fact cancer data are stored in “silos” rather than being shared.

“What a difference a year makes,” Biden said. “With the expertise of many in this room, we set out to reimagine and to resource the system and change the culture so that we can make even greater progress against this terrible disease. For decades, we thought we could tackle cancer one discipline at a time. But, that is not how cancer operates. Cancer uses every tool at its disposal, it hides from the immune system, it builds its own blood supply, it uses viruses to spread, and it knows how to spread through the body using pathways and mutations we don’t fully understand even at this moment. The cancer never gives up, it never surrenders. And that is why we have to use every discipline cancer does, and we are starting to do that in a more coordinated way.”

PAGE BREAK

Originally, Biden said, the moonshot was about doing two things — emphasizing the urgency of the fight to double the rate of progress, and to change the culture and come up with a new strategy.

In the last year, 80 new actions and collaborations have been launched to achieve these goals and deliver results to patients sooner. For example, the Department of Veterans Affairs has entered into a cooperation with the Department of Energy to generate a dedicated network, and VA cancer data are now accessed by the Department of Energy supercomputers.

Access to cancer clinical trials also has been improved with streamlined information available on clinicaltrials.gov.

“In the time we’ve had, I think we were able to get a running start, but we are nowhere near finishing the race,” Biden said. “We have been overwhelmed by the public interest in the cancer moonshot, and the desire for people all over the world to be a part of it. The moonshot has evolved from a program to a movement. As a result of that movement, we are able to identify and grow new approaches to data sharing and access to care and prevention programs.”

As part of this initiative, 10 memoranda of understanding have been signed with nine countries to share and collate data and help in the fight against cancer, helping break down the silos of research and data that Biden discussed at last year’s meeting.

Eighty private sector companies and organizations have also reached out to cooperate, including IBM to share their Watson supercomputer, and Amazon to share their cloud data storage capabilities.

The second major advance in the last year was the signing of the 21st Century Cures Act into law on Dec. 13, Biden said. The legislation aims to provides $1.8 billion to bolster the cancer moonshot initiative over the next 7 years, including $300 million for the current fiscal year.

“This particular piece of legislation is a down payment for us to use to realize Biden’s goal of accelerating the fight against cancer,” Davidson said. “The Beau Biden Cancer Moonshot initiative will marshal resources across both the federal government and private sector to achieve the moonshot’s mission to make a decade of progress in 5 years in preventing, diagnosing and treating cancer.”

The bipartisan support for this legislation reflects the fact that cancer research is a priority for millions of Americans, Biden said.

PAGE BREAK

“Our work is nowhere near done,” he said. “We have to make sure we’re investing funds in ways that support breakthroughs in way the blue ribbon panel imagined. We need to prioritize ... [and] to demonstrate that we are using dollars wisely.”

The Biden Cancer Initiative will be launched soon to carry out these goals, change the cancer research culture, and help to continue to break down the siloes that exist, Biden said.

“But there is a new problem,” Biden said. “The message sent out a few weeks ago in President Trump’s budget is counter to this hope and the progress we’ve made. We’re on the cusp of delivering decades of research to develop new technologies and therapies, on the cusp of saving and extending lives of Americans. The president is not only not doubling down on our investment, he is proposing draconian cuts to the entire scientific expertise across the board. ... This would set the NIH budget back 15 years.”

One estimate is that the proposed cuts would reduce NIH grants in 2018 by 90%, Biden said.

“This is no time to undercut progress,” Biden said. “It is not time to let up. It’s time to double down, to ensure we deliver on the progress in science and technology to extend and improve lives. Our work and our endeavor still matters a great deal. We can provide real hope for patients, hope in the progress against cancer. So let’s keep it going, because this is no time to stop the momentum.” – by Alexandra Todak

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