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The Fate of Cancer Moonshot in 2017

Surabhi Dangi-Garimella, PhD
Will Vice President Joe Biden's Cancer Moonshot initiative be able to sustain it's momentum in 2017 following the transition in government?
The Affordable Care Act (ACA), or Obamacare, has remained an important achievement of President Barack Obama’s 8-year term leading the nation. For Vice President Joe Biden, the Cancer Moonshot initiative, announced by the president during the 2016 State of the Union address, has been a very significant undertaking. However, the future of both the ACA and Cancer Moonshot are uncertain following the results of the presidential election this week. 

The year 2016 saw a number of programs being launched and panels being announced in support of Cancer Moonshot. The administration initially asked the Congress for $755 million for cancer-related research for the year 2017, as well as $195 million in new funding for the National Institutes of Health for 2016, to support research to prevent, screen, and treat cancer, as well as to promote data sharing among various institutions.

A Blue Ribbon Panel of experts—authorities in biology, immunology, genomics, diagnostics, bioinformatics, and cancer prevention and treatment—was appointed to assist the National Cancer Advisory Board to identify and implement the scientific goals of Cancer Moonshot. The panel recently released a report that includes significant opportunities for improvement in the following areas:

  • Clinical trials
  • Enhanced data sharing
  • Cancer immunology
  • Implementation science
  • Pediatric cancer
  • Precision prevention and early detection
  • Tumor evolution and progression
A month later, Biden presented the president and the nation with an actionable plan with proposals to transform cancer research and care delivery in the United States. Importantly, the report identified barriers to data sharing that keep research findings and patient medical records within hard-to-penetrate silos.

But all of these transformative changes require funding, which may not be available following the transition in the White House early next year. Greg Simon, executive director of Cancer Moonshot, is, however, quite upbeat. According to Bloomberg BNA, Simon voiced his faith in the bipartisan support that the initiative has received, although he acknowledged that he had not been contacted by the Trump campaign.

Elizabeth Jaffee, MD, deputy director of the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins, and co-chair of the Blue Ribbon Panel, agrees with Simon. She told Cancer Letter in an interview that cancer and biomedical research have always received support from both sides of the aisle.

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