In May 1961, John F. Kennedy announced his goal of the United States putting a man on the moon. While this became part of the former president’s legacy, the challenges that scientists, engineers, technicians and others overcame to make this a reality culminated in moments memorialized in photographs – the successful take off, landing and return of the Apollo 11 mission.
In this year’s state of the union, President Barack Obama gave his blessing on another moonshot – but instead of the president, our vice president is championing it. It is to beat cancer. “We’re calling it a ‘moonshot,’ and that’s because I believe that this effort, like President Kennedy’s call to land on the moon 55 years ago, is truly a call to humankind — to be bold and do big things,” said Vice President Joe Biden before the first Cancer Moonshot Task Force meeting on Feb. 1.
Instead of the tradesmen and engineers Kennedy turned to, Biden is turning to the scientific, medical and pharmaceutical thought leaders to find a cure for the disease that stole his son Joseph Robinette “Beau” Biden III from him at age 46 last May.
The $1 billion initiative will fund new research at the National Institute of Health (NIH) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that will hopefully result in a cancer vaccine or prevention treatment, earlier cancer detection, cancer immunotherapy and combination therapy, genomic analysis of tumor cells, improved data sharing between public and private sectors, developing a virtual Oncology Center of Excellence and improve therapies tailored to pediatric patients.
While this is an exciting moment for oncology, just deciding to cure cancer is not enough. President Nixon also had this mission in the 1970s, and cancer associations and institutes have been researching solutions for decades. What makes this different? That is what we are all waiting to see – but one point is obvious, no matter partisan affiliations, the world is seeing a dad fighting to make his loss mean something.
Biden is working with the NIH, the Health and Human Services Department, the Defense of Department, the FDA, other federal agencies, and lead researchers to find solutions. “As the Vice President has said, the Administration will do everything it can to support research and enable progress while calling on the families, researchers, and physicians across the country to join this effort and confront this challenge,” the White House said in a Feb. 1 press release.
For about $1 billion the United States put the first man on the moon. Do you think we can cure cancer for the same amount? Let me know what you think by reaching out to me by email at Rebecca.Rudolph@AdvantageMedia.com or by phone at 973-920-7164.