White House kicks off efforts for 'cancer moonshot'

White House kicks off efforts for 'cancer moonshot'
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President Obama on Thursday officially launched a cancer-fighting task force that he said will double the rate of progress in the nation’s fight against the disease.

The highly anticipated efforts, spearheaded by Vice President Biden, will be called the White House Cancer Moonshot Task Force – a reference to Biden’s speech in the Rose Garden last year calling for a “moonshot” to cure the disease that led to his son’s death.

Biden’s task force will be stacked with senior administration officials, including five Cabinet secretaries, as well as top economic advisers and leaders of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Food and Drug Administration.

“It is of critical national importance that we accelerate progress towards prevention, treatment, and a cure — to double the rate of progress in the fight against cancer — and put ourselves on a path to achieve in just 5 years research and treatment gains that otherwise might take a decade or more,” the Obama administration wrote in a memo announcing the task force.

The vice president has launched a high-profile push to end cancer after losing his oldest son to a brain tumor last fall. Since then, he and his staff have met with dozens of cancer researchers to identify the biggest areas of promise in research and treatments.

Obama first announced the efforts to fight against cancer in his State of the Union address earlier this month, one of only a few new policy items in his final year in office.

“For the loved ones we’ve all lost, for the families that we can still save, let’s make America the country that cures cancer once and for all,” Obama said in the speech.

The memo specifies that any funding for the effort will come from the NIH, which recently got a major budget increase with the help of lobbying from Biden.

Biden will appoint his own executive director to lead the effort. Final recommendations will be delivered to the president by Dec. 31.