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  • Washington Highlights

    President Creates Cancer "Moonshot" Task Force

    Tannaz Rasouli, Sr. Director, Public Policy & Strategic Outreach

    Building on his commitment in his last State of the Union address, President Barack Obama Jan. 29 issued a presidential memorandum creating a White House Cancer Moonshot Task Force (Task Force), within the office of the Vice President, which will focus on making the most of federal investments, targeted incentives, private sector efforts from industry and philanthropy, patient engagement initiatives, and other mechanisms to support cancer research and enable progress in treatment and care.

    The Vice President will chair the Task Force, whose members will include the heads of various executive branch departments, agencies, and offices including:

    • the departments of Defense, Commerce, Health and Human Services, Energy, and Veterans Affairs;
    • the Office of Management and Budget, the National Economic Council, the Domestic Policy Council, and the Office of Science and Technology Policy;
    • the National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Cancer Institute (NCI), and Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and National Science Foundation (NSF); and
    • other executive branch departments, agencies, or offices as the president may designate.

    The Task Force will work with a wide array of executive departments and agencies that have responsibility for key issues related to basic, translational, and clinical research, therapy development, regulation of medical products, and medical care related to cancer.

    In addition, the Task Force also will consult with external experts from relevant scientific sectors, including the presidentially appointed National Cancer Advisory Board (NCAB). The NCAB shall advise the Director of NCI on its recommendations respecting the future direction and program and policy emphasis of NCI as it relates to the work of the Task Force.

    To assist the NCAB in providing this advice, the NCAB is strongly encouraged to establish a working group consisting of a Blue Ribbon Panel of scientific experts. The Director of NCI shall relay the advice of the NCAB to the Task Force, as appropriate.

    The functions of the Task Force are advisory only and shall include, but shall not be limited to, producing a detailed set of findings and recommendations to:

    • accelerate the understanding of cancer, and its prevention, early detection, treatment, and cure;
    • improve patient access and care;
    • support greater access to new research, data, and computational capabilities;
    • encourage development of cancer treatments;
    • identify and address any unnecessary regulatory barriers and consider ways to expedite administrative reforms;
    • ensure optimal investment of federal resources; and
    • identify opportunities to develop public-private partnerships and increase coordination of the federal government's efforts with the private sector, as appropriate.

    In addition to regular meetings, the Task Force shall conduct outreach with representatives of the cancer patient community, academia, business, nonprofit organizations, state and local government agencies, the research community, and other interested persons that will assist with the development of a detailed set of recommendations.

    The Task Force is to present its findings and recommendations to the president before Dec. 31, 2016.