Biden kicks off anti-cancer push

Biden kicks off anti-cancer push
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Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenSanders keeping door open on 2020 Biden deflects questions about 2020 run at OZY Fest The Hill's 12:30 Report MORE began his post-State of the Union push on cancer research Friday in Philadelphia, saying he plans on leading anti-cancer efforts for “the rest of my life.”

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President Obama will soon announce an presidential memorandum allowing Biden to convene a task force in his push to speed up progress in the fight against cancer, the vice president said. 

Biden has already been meeting with a range of cancer researchers and others, but the State of the Union on Tuesday marked the formal announcement that Biden is “in charge of mission control” in the anti-cancer effort. 

Friday’s roundtable discussion with medical researchers at the University of Pennsylvania was Biden's first public event on cancer since then. 

The vice president worked to show that he understands that cancer will not be cured overnight. 

“I don’t want the press or folks out there saying, ‘Biden is being naive and saying we’re about to cure all cancer, and we’re going to do it tomorrow,’ ” Biden said. “But we can fundamentally change the life circumstances of millions of people around the world.”

He said his goal was to speed up progress so that achievements that would have taken ten years now take five years. 

Biden and his task force plan to serve as facilitators to share information across the government and private sector.

“What I’m finding is that there still are stovepipes that exist,” he said, noting that he wants to fight “cancer politics” that can prevent important information sharing across companies or universities. 

Funding, of course, is also an important element. The spending bill that passed Congress in December had a $2 billion increase for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), including $264 million more for the National Cancer Institute. Private donations could also be part of the effort. 

Dr. Francis Collins, the NIH director, said that he would use the financing he controls to help persuade researchers across the country to share more of their data. 

As for the results, Biden, said, “I’ve never been so optimistic in my life.” 

- Updated at 6:47 p.m.