Now in its seventh year, the Obama presidency has been a time of dramatic transformation for the U.S. health care system. Perhaps the most high-profile initiative to date is the president's cancer moonshot, led by Vice President Joe Biden.
Biden, who lost his son Beau to brain cancer in 2015, has made it his personal mission to speed up the search for a cure. In January, he announced a raft of new initiatives, including a $1 billion commitment from the federal government and the creation of a public-private partnership called the Biden Cancer Initiative.
The moonshot has won bipartisan support and has been welcomed by the cancer community. "It is a watershed moment," said Dr. Otis Webb Brawley, the chief medical and scientific officer of the American Cancer Society.
Critics say the moonshot is too little, too late. The cancer community has been calling for such a program for years, and there is no guarantee that the additional money will make a difference.
But Biden is bullish about the potential for success. "I'm not naive," he said in a January interview. "I know there's a lot of skepticism out there. But I believe if we do this right, it won't just be a one-time event. It will launch a whole new era of cancer prevention, diagnosis and treatment."
Moonshot and Aims High With Cancer Moonshot
In 2016, the US government declared a national goal to end cancer as we know it with the launch of the Moonshot Initiative. This ambitious campaign is spearheaded by Vice President Joe Biden, whose son Beau lost his battle with cancer in 2015.
The goals of the moonshot are threefold:
1. Speed up the process of finding a cure for cancer
2. Enhance patient access to experimental treatments
3. Change the culture of cancer care so that it focuses on prevention and early detection
Since its inception, the Moonshot initiative has made significant progress in meeting its goals. For example, the Biden Cancer Initiative has partnered with major pharmaceutical companies to make cancer drugs available to patients at no cost. And the Cancer Moonshot Task Force has launched a number of initiatives to improve prevention and detection, including the National Cancer Moonshot Registry and the Blue Button 2.0 Initiative.
Despite these advances, much work remains to be done. Cancer is still the No. 2 cause of death in the United States, and only half of all patients diagnosed with cancer survive more than five years.
To accelerate progress and achieve the Moonshot's objectives, the Biden Cancer Initiative has called for the support of the entire cancer community, including patients, physicians, researchers, drug companies, and others. If we all work together, we can end cancer as we know it.
After he was elected Vice President, Biden’s son Beau was diagnosed with brain cancer. Beau Biden passed away in May 2015, just a few months after his father’s inauguration. In honor of Beau, Biden vowed to make cancer research a central part of his Vice Presidency. In January of this year, after he decided not to run for President, Biden created the Biden Cancer Initiative to continue this work.