Ideas. Action. Results.

On Cancer ‘Moonshot,’ Time is Ticking for Biden

Roll Call

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Vice President Joseph R. Biden is widely seen as the engine behind the Obama administration’s “moonshot” anti-cancer push, raising questions about its fate once he leaves office next year.

The White House on Thursday took the first tangible steps in its fight against cancer, formally establishing a task force first mentioned in President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address. Biden, who will lead the task force, sounded at times bold and cautious.

“We’re on the cusp of incredible breakthroughs in both research and therapies,” Biden wrote in a Medium post. “In just the last decade or less, we’ve seen amazing advances in immunotherapy, in genomics, in virology and combination therapies.”

He vowed that his task force will “break through some of the barriers and do what we can to help speed up the progress, so that we can deliver treatments and increase access to these new approaches for millions more people.”

But even while declaring his optimism, he acknowledged the challenges ahead. He will lead a task force composed of five massive government departments and nearly 10 offices, institutes and agencies from across the sprawling — and often hard-to-wrangle — federal apparatus. He has a year left in his term and no definitive budget identified yet…

Janet Marchibroda of the Bipartisan Policy Center called the formal creation of the group “a good first step.”

“So many federal agencies that play a role in prevention — or in working on a cure, or getting drugs to market faster — that pulling pulling together the agencies into one task force feels right,” Marchibroda said.