By Suzanne Leigh and Louise Chu, UCSF
Vice President Joe Biden and his wife Jill Biden, PhD, visited UC San Francisco Saturday, Feb. 27 to meet with top cancer experts as part of the National Cancer Moonshot initiative to develop new approaches that fast-forward the development of novel therapies.
The Bidens’ visit was the latest stop on a national listening tour to meet with scientists to learn how they can help improve the process of cancer research, as well as meet with cancer patients and survivors to help improve care.
Since President Barack Obama announced that the vice president would be leading this cancer initiative in January’s State of the Union address, Biden said he’s received overwhelming support for this effort, for which the White House has given $1 billion in initial funding.
“Great goals cannot be reached unless there is a consensus and this is one of those goals where I have overwhelming support from Democrats and Republicans alike – left, right and center,” Biden said. “Everyone, everyone is affected.”
All the panelists agreed that we’re currently at an exciting point in cancer research, especially with advances in technology that are allowing scientists to better collect and understand Big Data.
“We indeed are at an inflection point. Things feel different now,” said Alan Ashworth, PhD, who leads the UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center.
“We’re seeing diseases that were completely intractable, now individuals surviving for a long, long time with new therapies,” he added. “But I think we’ve got to understand the scale of the problem we’ve got here. … We can see perhaps the light at the end of the tunnel, but we don’t quite know at this point how we’re going to get there.”