How Trump can make the most of a nonpartisan cancer 'moonshot'
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While many are focusing on what newly appointed Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price will do about repealing ObamaCare, or cuts to Medicare and Medicaid, attention should also be paid to some of the other critical areas now under his administrative scope.

One key initiative should be sustaining the nation's rich heritage of biomedical research, publically entrusted to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The NIH benefited from passage of the 21st Century Cures Act in December, which contained $4.8 billion in new funding — $1.8 billion of which is reserved for the cancer "moonshot" initiative launched by then-President Obama, who put then-Vice President Joe BidenJoseph (Joe) Robinette BidenRasmussen poll: Nearly three-quarters of Dems want 'fresh face' as nominee in 2020 Biden: Trump, Putin presser was 'beneath the dignity' of the presidency Biden: I’m ‘ashamed’ of Trump’s border policies MORE in charge of what became the latter's namesake effort.

And although some in Congress criticized the act for providing too many concessions to the pharmaceutical industry at the expense of patient safety, the influx of additional money for research into cancer, as well as brain diseases and opioid abuse, is most welcome if dispensed in a measured, responsible manner dealing with prevention as well as research and treatment.

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During the past year, we've written several times in The Hill about some of the shortcomings related to moonshot, especially regarding the partisan and nationalistic nature of its origin, and the lack of clarity in its organization.

 

And today, there still seems to be some confusion about its leadership and direction.

In a recent conversation with Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), the congresswoman noted that Biden would continue the effort through a foundation he was starting. And a member of moonshot's blue ribbon panel said that the initiative was now under the direction of the National Cancer Institute's acting director, Douglas Lowy.

To succeed, the Trump administration needs to assume the leadership Biden was given previously as vice president to foster cooperation and collaboration among the various federal agencies and institutions with relevant resources, and to guide moonshot in a direction that maximizes its value to public health.

We've already recommended that the president make Lowy's appointment permanent, and would add now that his administration not repeat the mistake of his predecessor in his partisanship, but rather invite Biden and others passionate and experienced in the cancer community to fight the disease that does not discriminate in its incidence or mortality.

Nancy G. Brinker is the founder of Susan G. Komen, the world's largest breast cancer charity. She has also served as U.S. ambassador to Hungary, U.S. chief of protocol and as a Goodwill Ambassador for Cancer Control to the U.N.'s World Health Organization. She is now continuing her work in media and consulting and has taken a leave of absence from Komen's board.

Rosenthal is an independent journalist who covers issues, controversies and trends in oncology as special correspondent for MedPage Today. He is the founder of the National Cancer Institute's Designated Cancer Centers Public Affairs Network and helped organize a number of national medicine-and-the-media conferences.

Both Brinker and Rosenthal have been co-chairing cancer forums for the Concordia Summit. The opinions expressed belong solely to the authors.


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