Biden discusses cancer cure effort at Duke
Posted February 5, 2016
Updated February 10, 2016
Durham, N.C. — Vice President Joe Biden, charged by President Barack Obama to lead government efforts to find a cure for cancer, discussed his plans Wednesday at the Duke University School of Medicine.
Dubbed the White House Cancer Moonshot Task Force, Biden's group will be "advisory only," and it formalizes efforts Biden has made to supercharge cancer research since the death of his son, Beau, of brain cancer less than a year ago.
"You could feel the vice president really believes in this program in his heart," Tom Roberg of BioMark said.
The goal of the task force is to make a decade's worth of advances in curing cancer in five years by pouring billions of dollars into research, focusing on fundraising and streamlining federal government to make it easier for research institutions and drug companies to share information.
"The question is, 'Are we going to make sure this information is being shared so an oncologist in Fayetteville can access information for a world class system like Duke?'" Biden said.
The Defense Department, the Food and Drug Administration and the National Institutes of Health are among about a dozen federal agencies involved. The task force will submit a report on its findings to Obama at the end of December.
"I don't claim to be a cancer expert," Biden has said. "But I do have something to offer when it comes to being a catalyst and bringing folks together."
Biden met with some of the nation's leading cancer researchers and asked questions about their research, including a breakthrough that used the polio virus to treat brain cancer. The doctors that attended the "roundtable" discussion highlighted how technology is advancing quicker than their ability to discern microscopic differences in strains of cancer, a topic that experts say needs the sharpest focus.
"The science is ready, it seems to me," Biden said. "Much more has to be done, but I believe we can make much faster progress as an outsider looking in, if we see greater collaboration, greater sharing of info, breaking down some of the research."
The group also tapped into the discussion of clinical trials, vowing to break down bureaucratic barriers to make it easier for patients to join trails, and get access to experimental drugs.