Weekly Address: Vice President Joe Biden – Achieving the Mission of the Cancer Moonshot

The President’s Weekly Address post is also an Open News Thread. Feel free to share other news stories in the comments.

From the White HouseWeekly Address

In this week’s address, Vice President Joe Biden discussed the progress of the White House Cancer Moonshot, an initiative with the goal to make a decade’s worth of advances in cancer prevention, diagnosis, and treatment, in five years. Recently, the Cancer Moonshot Task Force released a report that outlines what we need to do to achieve this goal, including: enhancing prevention efforts, expanding access to care, increasing collaboration and sharing data amongst cancer researchers, and building an international commitment to the fight against cancer. The report also highlighted the progress we’ve made since the launch of the Moonshot. Today, federal agencies are working together to share research – such as the National Institutes of Health using NASA’s research on radiation and its effects on the human body. In the past few months, more than 70 public and private sector commitments have been made to join the fight against cancer – such as IBM, which offered its supercomputer, Watson, to partner with the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs to help patients determine specific therapies they need for their cancer treatment. The Vice President said the Moonshot is about all of us doing our part in the fight against cancer. To learn how you can volunteer to help, visit Cancer.Serve.Gov, and to learn about clinical trials nearby, visit Trials.Cancer.Gov.

Transcript: Weekly Address: Achieving the Mission of the Cancer Moonshot

Remarks of Vice President Joe Biden as Prepared for Delivery
Weekly Address
The White House
October 29, 2016

Hi everybody, Joe Biden here.

I delivered a report to President Obama laying out how far we’ve come since he put me in charge of the Cancer Moonshot back in January—and a real vision of where we need to go in the immediate future to: do in five years what would otherwise take ten; inject a sense of urgency into the fight against cancer; and change the culture and reimagine our system to win.

When President Nixon declared war on cancer in 1971, he had no army, no resources, and no clear strategy to win. But after 45 years of progress, funding research, training scientists and physicians, and treating millions of patients—we now have the army. We now have powerful new tools. And with this Moonshot, we now have a clear strategy for the road ahead. It matters because there’s a consensus that we’re at an inflection point—with science, medicine, and technology advancing faster than ever and offering real promise. But we can’t play by the rules of 1971—in 2016.

Just five years ago, immunotherapy—using the immune system to kill cancer cells while protecting healthy ones—wasn’t taken seriously. Now it is and it’s offering real hope. Decades of research has accumulated huge amounts of data—but it’s not shared, it’s hard to understand, and often not accessible to researchers and the public. But now we’re in the position to break down silos to change that.

And the Moonshot vision report reflects what Jill and I have learned after meeting with thousands of cancer patients and their families, advocates, physicians, researchers, philanthropists, technology leaders, and heads of states about what’s happening now and what we need to do. It’s everything from enhancing prevention efforts, expanding access to care, and forging an international commitment to this fight.

This week I also released a report from the Cancer Moonshot Task Force— the team I’m leading to reimagine the federal government’s fight against this dreaded disease. It touches almost every corner of government. For example, you’d expect the National Institutes of Health to be involved in researching radiation therapy for cancer patients. But would you expect NASA to be involved? Nobody in the world knows more about radiation and its effects on the human body than NASA, whose scientists are constantly finding ways to protect our astronauts from harmful radiation in space. Now, thanks to the Moonshot, the National Institute of Cancer will use that knowledge to help cancer patients.

Here’s another great example. Right now, only 4% of adult cancer patients are enrolled in clinical trials. Why? Most patients—and even doctors—don’t know where to go. And it’s a problem for drug companies because they don’t have enough patients to generate the research, find new breakthroughs, and get them to patients. But now thanks to the work of the Presidential Innovation Fellows—some of the top technology minds who left Silicon Valley to work in the White House—anyone can go to Trials.Cancer.Gov, type in real words like “breast cancer,” a zip code, or an age, and more easily find a list of clinical trials nearby.

And another thing that’s happening that didn’t before is the private sector is also reimagining what it can and should do. In just the last few months, more than 70 new public and private sector commitments have been made from companies like Microsoft and Amazon. IBM, for example, came to us and offered Watson, its supercomputer, to partner with the Department of Defense, and the VA. Now, a veteran at Walter Reed can get her cancer genome or tumor sequenced and then Watson will search all known specific therapies that would target that cancer—and deliver it right to the patient and doctor.

Folks, most of you assume we’ve already been doing this. We weren’t before, but now we are. And the Moonshot is about all of us doing our part. Visit Cancer.Serve.Gov to learn how you can volunteer to help your loved ones, friends, and neighbors.

In our fight against cancer—we must be unwilling to postpone—for the loved ones we’ve lost and the ones we can save.

Thanks, and have a great weekend.

Bolding added.




  1. More information on the Cancer Moonshot can be found on medium:

    Report of the Cancer Moonshot Task Force: Executive Summary

    In his 2016 State of the Union Address, President Obama called on Vice President Biden to lead a new, national “Cancer Moonshot” to dramatically accelerate efforts to prevent, diagnose, and treat cancer — to achieve a decade’s worth of progress in 5 years. By leveraging decades of scientific understanding from the study and care of cancer, creating and aggregating immensely powerful datasets, and developing unprecedented science and technological capabilities, we as a Nation are positioned to end cancer as we know it.

  2. On October 27th, President Obama held a conference call with Affordable Care Act assistants and volunteers in advance of the open enrollment period starting November 1st.

    The one thing that’s been a challenge, obviously, since we passed the Affordable Care Act is the politics of it. Because there is a faction of people who are continually trying to root for failure, despite the fact that we keep on insuring people and folks continue to get help.

    So the bottom line is that most people are going to be pleasantly surprised at just how affordable their options are if we can just get them to see for themselves. This is not one of those things where they’re going to be surprised or have to engage in guesswork. If we are able to get people to actually check out their options for themselves at healthcare.gov, they will find out that despite some of the headlines that don’t always explain the fact that premiums going up don’t necessarily translate into higher premiums for people who are getting tax credits — if they can just see that for themselves, then they will exercise that option.

    But we’re going to have to kind of clear the bugs off the windshield so people can see the road ahead. And that’s where you guys come in. That’s why what you do is so important. Because there may be people who haven’t yet signed up for affordable care, are cynical or skeptical about the marketplace because of all the political noise around, and so they’ve never actually bothered to take a look to see if this something that could help them and something that they can afford. […]

    Ultimately, not only the millions of people who still don’t have coverage in this country are going to get it, but all the generations to come who will be able to look back and say this was the moment when we really delivered on a longstanding promise of affordable health care for every single person in America. They’re going to be able to look back and say that those folks who were in neighborhoods, making calls and knocking on doors, and working on their college campuses, they were the ones who did it. So it’s in your hands, and I need you guys to really understand that.

  3. In the News: Nations Agree To Establish World’s Largest Marine Reserve In Antarctica

    After years of negotiations, nations have reached an agreement to establish the world’s largest marine sanctuary in Antarctica’s Ross Sea.

    Twenty-four countries and the European Union reached the unanimous deal at an international meeting of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources in Hobart, Australia on Friday.

    “The Ross Sea is widely considered to be the last great wilderness area on Earth and known as the polar ‘Garden of Eden’,” according to a statement from the United Nations Environment Programme. The area is home to “50 per cent of ecotype-C killer whales (also known as the Ross Sea orca), 40 per cent of Adélie penguins, and 25 per cent of emperor penguins.”

    From CCAMLR

    CCAMLR’s Scientific Committee first endorsed the scientific basis for proposals for the Ross Sea region put forward by the USA and New Zealand in 2011. It invited the Commission to consider the proposals and provide guidance on how they could be progressed. Each year from 2012 to 2015 the proposal was refined in terms of the scientific data to support the proposal as well as the specific details such as exact location of the boundaries of the MPA. Details of implementation of the MPA will be negotiated through the development of a specific monitoring and assessment plan. The delegations of New Zealand and the USA will facilitate this process.

    This year’s decision to establish a Ross Sea MPA follows CCAMLR’s establishment, in 2009, of the world’s first high-seas MPA, the South Orkney Islands southern shelf MPA, a region covering 94 000 km2 in the south Atlantic.

    From Secretary of State John Kerry (full statement)

    In further proof that the world is finally beginning to understand the urgency of the threats facing our planet, today in Hobart, Australia, 25 governments including the United States approved the creation of the world’s largest Marine Protected Area (MPA) in Antarctica’s Ross Sea. The Ross Sea Region MPA will safeguard one of the last unspoiled ocean wilderness areas on the planet – home to unparalleled marine biodiversity and thriving communities of penguins, seals, whales, seabirds, and fish.

    The Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) – which operates by the unanimous consent of its 25 members and which I have been proud to support for decades – made extraordinary progress with today’s announcement, and that progress didn’t happen by accident. It happened thanks to many years of persistent scientific and policy review, intense negotiations, and principled diplomacy. It happened because our nations understood the responsibility we share to protect this unique place for future generations.

    The new MPA adds 1.55 million square kilometers (598,000 square miles) in new ocean protection – an area nearly twice the size of the state of Texas. This designation — on top of the nearly 4 million square kilometers of newly protected ocean announced around the global Our Ocean conference the State Department hosted in September — makes 2016 a landmark year for ocean stewardship.

    In addition to its tremendous conservation value, the Ross Sea MPA is designed to be a natural laboratory for valuable scientific research to increase our understanding of the impact of climate change and fishing on the ocean and its resources. A key focus of the new MPA will be improving collaborative marine research by CCAMLR members, which will benefit people all over the world. The creation of the Ross Sea MPA is an extraordinary step forward for marine protection, and the United States is grateful for the cooperation with our New Zealand co-sponsors of the proposal, and of all CCAMLR members, including Russia, to make this achievement possible.

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