Biden Urges Americans to Come Together for Cancer Fight
BOSTON — President Joe Biden traveled to Boston, Massachusetts, Monday in a bid to rekindle memories of John F. Kennedy’s famous challenge to land an American on the moon and made a similar call for Americans to embrace the goal of ending cancer “as we know it.”
Monday was the 60th anniversary of Kennedy’s speech at Rice University in Houston, Texas, in which the former president committed the United States to the “great national effort” of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to Earth “before this decade is out.”
Recalling his predecessor’s words on Monday while speaking at the John F. Kennedy Library, Biden said Kennedy “established a national purpose that could rally the American people and a common cause.”
The current occupant of the Oval Office said he hoped to do the same as he continues to push for the goal he set out in February of cutting U.S. cancer fatalities by 50% over the next 25 years and dramatically improving the lives of caregivers and those suffering from cancer.
The president called his goal of developing treatments and therapeutics for cancers “bold, ambitious, and I might add, completely doable.”
“This cancer moonshot is one of the reasons why I ran for president,” Biden said. “Cancer does not discriminate between red and blue. It doesn’t care if you’re a Republican or a Democrat. Beating cancer is something we can do together.”
Biden said cancer is often diagnosed too late, and said “there are too few ways to prevent it in the first place.”
He also noted that there are stark inequities in cancer diagnosis and treatment based on race, disability, sexual orientation and gender identity.
“We know too little about why treatments work for some patients, but a different patient with the same disease, it doesn’t work for. We still lack strategies in developing treatments for some cancers,” he said.
Later, he observed “we don’t do enough to help patients and families navigate the cancer care system.”
Much of what Biden said reiterated his remarks from February when he announced, among other things, that his reboot of the Cancer Moonshoot begun in the last year of the Obama administration would include forming a “cancer cabinet,” and urging Americans to get screened for the disease.
But at the time, Biden didn’t make any large budget requests to support the initiative, and any momentum he was hoping to gain with his earlier remarks was quashed a week later by the resignation of Eric Lander, the White House’s top science adviser, who quit after an internal review found credible evidence that he’d bullied staff.
Among the updates Biden did announce on Monday was that he has appointed Dr. Renee Wegrzyn to head a new agency, Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health.
The agency was established by Biden in February to improve the U.S. government’s ability to drive health and biomedical research.
“ARPA-H will have the singular purpose to drive breakthroughs to prevent, detect and treat diseases, including cancer, Alzheimer’s, diabetes and other diseases and enable us to live healthier lives,” Biden said.
Biden also announced that he signed a new executive order before heading to Boston that would kickstart a National Biotechnology and Biomanufacturing Initiative, to help ensure that the technology that will help end cancer is made in America.
The initiative will seek to boost biomanufacturing in pharmaceuticals but also in other industries such as agriculture, plastics and energy.
He said the creation of new technologies for cancer treatments and other things will create jobs and strengthen supply chains — and added that the U.S. then would not have to rely on anywhere else in the world for that advancement.
“Today, we have many of the building blocks needed to make significant progress combating cancer, but we must come together to equitably deliver on this promise,” he said.
The American Cancer Society In 2022 has estimated that this year alone, 1.9 million new cancer cases will be diagnosed and 609,360 people will die of cancer-related diseases.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention rank cancer as the second-highest killer of people in the U.S. after heart disease.