The cancer “moonshot” initiative led by Vice President Joe Biden would continue under a Clinton administration, the Democratic presidential nominee confirmed Aug. 15.
Hillary Clinton’s campaign released a statement ahead of a rally with Biden in Scranton, Pa., in which she called for restoring robust funding to the National Institutes of Health, along with “harnessing the power of the private sector.”
While Clinton’s endorsement of an initiative that began this year after President Barack Obama’s final State of the Union address isn’t surprising, the statement marks her first official confirmation that she would continue the initiative to double the rate of progress on cancer treatments and prevention therapies.
“Since the launch of the Cancer Moonshot initiative, Vice President Biden has spurred unprecedented cooperation between federal agencies and leaders in the private and nonprofit sectors,” Clinton’s statement said. “Together, they are creating new protocols to promote the sharing of research data, pushing for more enrollment in clinical trials, and providing new tools for patients. And all of this effort is taking advantage of the incredible strides we have made in recent years to grapple with this disease. We know more than we ever have about the biology of cancer, how to prevent it, and how to treat it. We need to do more to build on these developments, advance our understanding, and develop more effective treatments. Simply put, if we make the right investments today, we can save lives.”
Ryan M. Hohman, spokesman for Friends of Cancer Research, told Bloomberg BNA that it is “extremely important” that the next president makes a commitment to patients, to science and to biomedical research.
“The Vice President’s moonshot has already made great strides to change the system and accelerate the fight against cancer,” Hohman said in an Aug. 15 e-mail. “The fact that Secretary Clinton has endorsed the moonshot, and committed to, if elected, continuing the passionate and vital work that [Vice President] Biden launched, means a great deal to the community, and should be a sign to any elected official that eradicating cancer must be a National priority.”
Clinton further indicated that Biden may continue to have a role in shaping the initiative if she becomes president. “My Administration will carry out the mission the Vice President has set, and continue to call on his advice, leadership, compassion, and sheer strength of will,” she said. “Together, we will seize this moment. Together, we will make cancer as we know it a disease of the past.”
Jon Retzlaff, managing director of the American Association for Cancer Research Office of Science Policy and Government Affairs, said his organization is extremely pleased to see Clinton’s commitment to the initiative. “If we are to achieve the goal of the Cancer Moonshot Initiative, which is to make a decade of advances in cancer prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and care in five years, it is going to require an ongoing and long-term commitment to the ideas and proposals that will soon be proposed by the [National Cancer Institute] Blue Ribbon Panelists, NCI leaders, and the Cancer Moonshot Task Force members,” he said in an Aug. 15 e-mail to Bloomberg BNA. The blue ribbon panel is an advisory panel that is developing the scientific goals for the initiative. Its report is expected to be released in the spring.
Suzanne Ffolkes, spokeswoman for Research!America, said her organization was pleased Clinton stated her commitment to marshaling the resources and brainpower of both the public and private sector for this ambitious initiative. “Increased investments for cancer research are critical to advancing innovative research into this deadly and disabling disease,” Ffolkes told Bloomberg BNA in an Aug. 15 email. “Vice President Biden’s efforts to leverage the individual and collective strengths of the research community for this important project is very promising, and Clinton’s support reinforces why this must be a national priority.”
Trump Position Sought
Retzlaff of AACR added, “We also look forward to hearing a similar commitment from Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump that the Cancer Moonshot Initiative will be a priority in his administration should he become president.”
Donald Trump’s campaign didn’t respond to a request for comment. But just two days earlier, Trump brought Giacomo Brancato, an 18-year-old recovering cancer patient, on stage during an event in Fairfield, Conn. Brancato made a brief endorsement for the Republican nominee early in the event, according to a campaign video of the Aug. 13 event.