Today, the new CEO of the AACR, Nancy Davidson, announced Joe Biden in DC at the annual meeting to a very excited large crowed who greeted him with a standing ovation. Don’t we all miss him?
Mr Biden was invited for the second time to give an update about the Moonshot Cancer Research Initiative named after his son Beau Biden who sadly died of cancer in 2015. His speech was as expected loaded with enthusiasm, ambitions and emotions. More than once the former VP had to swallow his sorrow; yet, as several times before, he represented beautifully this extremely important program that turned into a full movement.
Joe Biden started by thanking everybody in the hall for being an enormous resource for this anti-cancer initiative. The mission of the initiative is to inject the urgency of NOW and to reach a CHANGE in culture with NEW strategies to tackle cancer.
“Cancer never gives up! It always finds new ways to come back by hijacking the immune system, creating its own blood supply and using viruses.”
That’s why the research community must not give up either and needs to work together as one team: Cancer biologists, medical oncologists, immunologists, geneticists and chemical and biological engineers. In addition, we need to think outside the box, be innovative and include e.g. computer engineers from different areas.
The big step has been to create new tools such as worldwide databases for patients and medical oncologists to find the right clinical trials and for the pharmaceutical industry to find the right patients for their drug development programs. The former VP and his team were overwhelmed by the great interest of the community to learn more about the program and to become a part of it – not only in the United States but everywhere all over the globe. This is so important! Everybody knows “We can do more together than working alone.”
Since the Beau Biden Moonshot Initiative has been initiated, shared data have been used 80 million times and a consortium for an open database for liquid biopsies has been initiated. This unprecedented level of collaboration is exciting and hopefully contagious .
The initial funding is $1.8 billion and part of the 21st Century Cure Act. This was possible last year because of a consensus within the government. Democrats and Republicans came together to make a decision that affects everybody. Everybody understood how important it is make great progress NOW, FAST and to NOT LOSE MOMENTUM.
In the last part of his speech, Joe Biden emphasized how crucial it is to use $$ wisely and to prioritize well so that promising progress can be achieved. For that reason, the Blue Ribbon Panel set up as part of the Moonshot Initiative. Members of this panel make transformative recommendations. The goal is to challenge the blue print, to create a genetic catalogue, match cancer-driving mutations with drugs or to predict evolution of a tumor and its progression and to take preventative measures. There is no single standard. That way the community can boost research and also help underserved populations.
Finally, the former VP showed his unique way to encourage people with the words: “We can do anything! The cancer community is holding the key! Go for new horizons and provide hope for patients to get the right therapy the first time! To catch cancer progression early or to prevent it from happening at all! Together we need to make fundamental changes for millions of people all over the world. This is no time to stop the momentum!”