Obama expected to mention Biden’s ‘moonshot’ cancer cure

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The nation’s leading cancer experts say they’re looking for commitment from President Obama in his final State of the Union address amid mounting pressure from his second-in-command Joe Biden.

The vice president has launched a high-profile push to end cancer after losing his oldest son last fall, and several advocates say they’re anticipating a direct mention of those efforts in Tuesday night’s speech.

{mosads}“We are hoping the president will outline a vision for ending cancer,” said Jon Retzlaff, the government affairs chief at the American Association for Cancer Research, who met last week with Biden’s senior staff. “The momentum is there for him to outline such a vision.”

Lobbyists for the American Cancer Society are also applying pressure, releasing a statement Tuesday morning that sets up the speech “as an opportunity to leave a legacy of less cancer.”

This week, a group of biotech companies, drugmakers, doctors and researchers announced a coalition called the Cancer MoonShot 2020 — a reference to Biden’s speech in the Rose Garden last October when he promised a “moon shot” to end cancer.

In his speech, Biden announced that he would not be seeking the presidency in 2016, largely because of his son’s death.

The massive new coalition will officially launch just hours before the State of the Union, and its group said Tuesday that the moonshot to cure cancer “is among the ideas being discussed for the State of the Union address tonight.”

The kickoff event on Tuesday afternoon will include remarks from Biden’s son-in-law, Dr. Howard Krein.

In the last few months, Biden and his staff have participated in dozens of “listening sessions” on cancer research and treatment — and how to accelerate the fight for a cure.

Retzlaff, who joined 15 of the world’s top cancer researchers for a meeting with the vice president’s staff last Friday, said they’ve been focused on the state of cancer research, particularly funding.

“They were extremely engaged, extremely interested in ideas,” he said.

An outline from Obama to end cancer would make good on a goal he laid out in his first joint address to Congress seven years ago. In that speech, Obama touted a budget that would “launch a new effort to conquer a disease that has touched the life of nearly every American by seeking a cure for cancer in our time.”

After severals of stalled budgets, congressional leaders, led by members in the House, secured an increase to the government’s medical research spending last fall, marking the first increase in a dozen years.  

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