Former Vice President Joe Biden is Leading the Charge to Fight Cancer

Anna Hatch

This article is the sixth in a series highlighting the accomplishments of Research!America’s 2017 Advocacy Award honorees who will be saluted at a dinner in Washington, D.C., on March 15. More details can be found here.

Nearly 1.7 million Americans were diagnosed with cancer last year. National expenditures for care are estimated to rise to $156 billion in 2020. Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States, claiming more than half-a-million lives each year.

 Joseph R. Biden, Jr., 47th Vice President of the United States, is leading efforts to accelerate the pace of cancer research through collaboration and innovative partnerships, and has been hailed as the driving force behind the White House Cancer Moonshot Taskforce and the Biden Foundation’s cancer initiative.

Research!America is honoring Joe Biden with the Gordon and Llura Gund Leadership Award, which recognizes individuals who have worked effectively to raise public awareness of medical and health research. 

The Cancer Moonshot, and now the Foundation’s cancer initiative, aim to develop more lifesaving treatments, and even cures by increasing resources for research and breaking down silos that impede progress. 

“It’s personal for me,” said Biden, who lost his son Beau Biden, former Delaware Attorney General, to brain cancer in 2015. “But it’s also personal for nearly every American, and millions of people around the world. We all know someone who has had cancer, or is fighting to beat it.  They’re our family, friends, and co-workers.”

To better understand the needs of patients and their families, physicians and researchers, the former Vice President and his wife Dr. Jill Biden traveled across the U.S. and the world engaging with the cancer community. Biden used the experience to help develop a five-year plan for the Cancer Moonshot in a report presented to President Barack Obama in October. He described the report as a message to the American people, saying the Cancer Moonshot shares “the spirit of discovery that defines this country and that gives me every confidence that we can do this.”  

Biden also helped lead passage of the 21st Century Cures Act, which provides $1.8 billion over seven years for the Cancer Moonshot. He personally called or met with nearly 20 Senators, and his enthusiasm helped energize patient and disease advocacy groups advocating for the bill.

President Barack Obama presented Biden with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, with distinction, at a surprise White House ceremony saying, “To know Joe Biden is to know love without pretense, service without self-regard, and to live life fully.” He added that Biden’s lifetime of service “will endure through the generations.”

The former Vice President will spearhead a new cancer initiative to continue fighting the disease in part by rethinking how different parts of the research enterprise including government, academia, non-profit organizations and the private sector can more effectively work together.

Biden also serves as the Benjamin Franklin Presidential Practice Professor at the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement at the University of Pennsylvania and leads the Biden Institute at University of Delaware. He was named Chair of the board of trustees of the National Constitution Center.

Anna Hatch is a Research!America Communications Intern.

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We have health challenges in this country that science will provide answers for if given the chance and we haven't given science that opportunity
Mary Woolley, President and CEO, Research!America