Vice President Joe Biden was on the University of Vermont campus this morning to discuss his work as chair of President Obama’s Cancer Moonshot Task Force, which has a goal to advance and accelerate cancer prevention, diagnosis and treatment.
The University of Vermont Cancer Center is nationally recognized for research into prevention, early detection and treatment of the disease. Over 300 clinical trials are conducted annually and the center is known for its creative collaborations.
U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy invited vice president to lead a Cancer Moonshot Roundtable on the campus. Vermont’s senior Senator says cancer touches everyone, including his own and Biden’s family. “Earlier this week the Vice President presented President Obama with an Executive report summarizing eight months of the Cancer Moonshot. Vice President Biden has engaged thousands of researchers, thousands across the country, oncologists, nurses, patients and advocates to find better ways. He’s been this catalyst to bring them together. And where there are barriers to improving care and the outcomes his report offers some real solutions. Never have I been so optimistic that we can attack this deadly disease.”
Vice President Biden lost his 46-year-old son Beau to brain cancer last year, and he immediately talked about his experience and how much he has learned about cancer since being appointed chair of the Cancer Moonshot initiative in January. He explained that there is not one cancer but rather more than 200 distinct cancers. But although there is an incredible diversity of disciplines needed to study the disease and new research tools emerging to stem cancer, the organizational structure for sharing data and analysis lags far behind. “We still have the same structure we had fighting cancer in 1971. This is 2016. We are so far behind the curve on some of the simple things that can make a gigantic difference. And we have these brilliant people here at this cancer hospital and they’re all over the world. But we still have a system that makes it very difficult for them, just a structural system, in my view. This is a worldwide problem and we need an organizational structure that will take us a different place.”
Biden says the report from the task force shows that new technologies and research leave us on the cusp of breathtaking breakthroughs. “Here’s what I heard when I was with my son, not from my son, but from patients on the ward. Doc, please one more month. Let me walk her down the aisle. In three weeks he graduates Doc. Just get me by, three more weeks to see him graduate. She’s my baby Doc and she’s about, she’s about to have her first child. Just let me see it. The whole purpose of the Moonshot is infuse, as Dr. King said, the urgency of now. We should be unwilling to postpone even a single day the kinds of changes we can make to accommodate these brilliant women and men to be able to give us a lot more than one more day or one more week.”
A link to the Cancer Moonshot Task Force report is available here