Biden maps out a 'moonshot' approach to cancer with plans to 'break down silos' in R&D

Vice President Joe Biden

Vice President Joe Biden fleshed out his plans to take the lead on a global effort to bolster cancer research, hoping to unite industry and academia to push new therapies forward.

The effort, which President Barack Obama endorsed in his State of the Union address Tuesday, is meant to "break down silos" between research institutions and unite oncologists working in disparate fields, Biden wrote in a post on Medium. Biden is promising to work with biopharma in the process, putting up federal funds in a 5-year effort to hit the gas on oncology research worldwide.

"And the goal of this initiative--this 'moonshot'--is to seize this moment," Biden wrote. "To accelerate our efforts to progress towards a cure, and to unleash new discoveries and breakthroughs for other deadly diseases."

The specifics remain unclear, but Biden has hinted at a widespread data-sharing program between industry and academia, and he has promised to unite oncology experts with cabinet secretaries to figure out how the U.S. can help remove barriers to R&D advancement.

The past few years alone have seen remarkable advances in oncology, Biden wrote, "but 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 started down this path in October, calling for "an absolute national commitment to end cancer as we know it today." His eldest son, Beau, died of brain cancer last year, and the vice president has since become the administration's public voice on oncology research.

Obama, who used his 2015 address to unveil the genomics-focused Precision Medicine Initiative, said Tuesday that he's "putting Joe in charge of Mission Control" in the so-called moonshot program.

"For the loved ones we've all lost, for the family we can still save, let's make America the country that cures cancer once and for all," Obama said.

- read Biden's post

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