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  • Washington Highlights

    President Delivers Final SOTU, Calls For Moonshot to Cure Cancer

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

    In his final State of the Union Address, delivered Jan. 12, President Obama announced a new national effort to accelerate the cure of cancer, highlighted increased health insurance coverage for Americans through the Affordable Care Act (ACA, P.L. 111-148 and P.L. 111-152), and pushed Congress to fund research and development to cure malaria, among other things.

    President Obama highlighted the nation’s historic “spirit of discovery” and named Vice President Joe Biden to head a new “moonshot” to lead the charge of finding a cure for cancer. He stated, “Last month, [Biden] worked with this Congress to give scientists at the National Institutes of Health the strongest resources that they’ve had in over a decade” [see Washington Highlights Dec. 18].

    Vice President Biden released a statement in conjunction with the president’s address expanding on the initiative stating, “Several cutting-edge areas of research and care — including cancer immunotherapy, genomics, and combination therapies — could be revolutionary. Innovations in data and technology offer the promise to speed research advances and improve care delivery.” He warned that “the science, data, and research results are trapped in silos, preventing faster progress and greater reach to patients. It’s not just about developing game-changing treatments — it’s about delivering them to those who need them.”

    Biden continued, “Right now, only 5 percent of cancer patients in the U.S. end up in a clinical trial. Most aren’t given access to their own data. At the same time, community oncologists — who treat more than 75 percent of cancer patients — have more limited access to cutting-edge research and advances.”

    Biden said the plan would “increase resources – both private and public – to fight cancer” and “break down silos and bring all the cancer fighters together – to work together, share information, and end cancer as we know it.” He expressed the goal of the initiative as “simple – to double the rate of progress…to make a decade worth of advances in five years.”

    He continued, “The Federal government will do everything it possibly can — through funding, targeted incentives, and increased private-sector coordination — to support research and enable progress. Data and technology innovators can play a role in revolutionizing how medical and research data is shared and used to reach new breakthroughs. We will help the oncology community improve communication with doctors across the United States and around the world, so the same care provided to patients at the world’s best cancer centers is available to everyone who needs it. And we will ensure that the patient community is heard — so patients and their families are treated as partners in care, with access to their own data and the opportunity to contribute to research.”

    Biden said he would visit the Abramson Cancer Center at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine on Jan. 15 “to talk to their physicians and researchers and continue this national dialogue.”

    In his remarks, the president additionally highlighted the imminent development of a cure to “end the scourge of HIV/AIDS” and expressed his desire to “accomplish the same thing with malaria – something I’ll be pushing this Congress to fund this year.”