Vice President Joe Biden’s sincere commitment to cancer research has sparked an interesting dialogue among cancer researchers, patient advocates, and even people who have no special connection to cancer. The White House’s Cancer Moonshot Initiative aims to infuse the cancer research community with capital ($1 billion pledged by the government and hopefully more from matching private funds), as well as vigor, vision, and creativity.
In a comprehensive and thoughtful speech delivered on June 6th of this year’s ASCO Annual Meeting, Vice President Joe Biden spoke of using his influence to bring researchers together and foster collaborative efforts between all sectors involved in research. The Vice President hopes to cut through red tape and bring together various players to improve cooperation and increase the pace of progress and make sure patients get the best care possible.
The hope is that this “moonshot” will make it easier for patients to join clinical trials and for researchers to share crucial data that allows for breakthroughs in cancer research. Vice President Joe Biden hopes to chip away at the barriers that keep scientists from working together across institutions and envisions having national repositories for stored data. This means that if a researcher is working with tissue samples in 1 lab, he or she can share results with colleagues at different institutions located thousands of miles away. He also mentioned ASCO’s CancerLinQ™, a big data initiative that can help advance cancer research.
The moonshot initiative offers enormous potential. This cooperative and collaborative approach could dramatically change the research landscape. Imagine the advances in research that could be possible if patients everywhere are able to play a more active role by donating samples or enrolling in clinical trials. Making this future a reality will require discipline, effort, and considerable involvement and regulation from the federal government.
The Vice President reminded the audience that cancer is a profoundly personal topic for him, as it is for so many people across the world. The Moonshot Initiative is a moving tribute to the memory of his son Beau Biden, who died of a brain tumor in 2015.