Vice President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the Cancer Moonshot at the Baker Institute at Rice University, Sept 16, 2016. (Official White House Photo by David Lienemann)

Report of the Cancer Moonshot Task Force: Executive Summary

The Cancer Moonshot
Cancer Moonshot℠
Published in
8 min readOct 17, 2016


In his 2016 State of the Union Address, President Obama called on Vice President Biden to lead a new, national “Cancer Moonshot” to dramatically accelerate efforts to prevent, diagnose, and treat cancer — to achieve a decade’s worth of progress in 5 years. By leveraging decades of scientific understanding from the study and care of cancer, creating and aggregating immensely powerful datasets, and developing unprecedented science and technological capabilities, we as a Nation are positioned to end cancer as we know it.

In pursuit of this mission, President Obama established the Cancer Moonshot Task Force charged with leveraging federal investments, targeted incentives, private sector efforts, patient engagement initiatives, and more, to support cancer research and enable progress in prevention, diagnosis, and treatment. Never before have so many government agencies come together — committing their leadership and uniting their focus — to tackle the challenges along the spectrum of cancer research and care to improve outcomes for patients.

Private sector collaborations and other efforts spurred by the Vice President’s leadership, in addition to his vision for igniting new innovation within the biomedical research enterprise, are outlined in an accompanying executive report. A Blue Ribbon Panel was also formed, which recommended areas of scientific opportunity to complement the Task Force’s activities. These collective efforts are not intended to replace existing cancer programs, initiatives, and policies already underway, but rather are focused on areas in which a coordinated effort can dramatically accelerate the pace of progress in the fight against cancer.

This report presents the Task Force’s Implementation Plans for accelerating progress, including actions launched under the Cancer Moonshot this year, as well as longer-term plans for continuing momentum into the future. In brief, the organizing framework and recommendations are as follows:

Strategic Goal 1: Catalyze New Scientific Breakthroughs

We are witnessing widespread and unprecedented optimism that we are on the verge of pivotal advances in oncology research. Under Strategic Goal 1, the Task Force is advancing the pace of scientific discovery by:

  • Fostering interdisciplinary approaches for elucidating the biological mechanisms underlying cancer onset and treatment;
  • Aligning research and care as a seamless and iterative process; and
  • Maximizing the collection and research use of longitudinal data and biospecimens.

Strategic Goal 2 : Unleash the Power of Data

Today researchers are working with an unprecedented amount of data, in part due to the explosion of genomic information, increasing use of electronic health records, and large datasets of clinical, environmental, and public health information. Under Strategic Goal 2, the Task Force is maximizing access to and usability of these data to enhance, improve, and inform the journey of every cancer patient by:

  • Enabling a seamless data environment for clinical and research data through shared policies and technologies;
  • Unlocking scientific advances through open publication and storage platforms and next-generation computer architectures; and
  • Developing a scientific workforce capable of using the open and connected data environment.

Strategic Goal 3 : Accelerate Bringing New Therapies to Patients

The process by which lifesaving products are moved into clinics is poised for transformation, especially given the access to new and innovative strategies for moving an idea from “bench to bedside.” Under Strategic Goal 3, the Task Force is accelerating this transformation by:

  • Finding efficiencies in the regulatory review and licensing processes;
  • Enhancing data sharing across sectors and incentivizing pre-competitive collaborations; and
  • Strengthening the oncology clinical research enterprise.

Strategic Goal 4: Strengthen Prevention and Diagnosis

As we gain an increasing understanding of the causes of cancer, the public can gain cumulative benefits from the broader arsenal of tools for combating this devastating disease. Under Strategic Goal 4, the Task Force is strengthening the Nation’s efforts around cancer prevention and diagnosis by:

  • Advancing health programs, policies, and outreach to help Americans reduce their cancer risk;
  • Strengthening our understanding of environmental determinants of cancer; and
  • Enhancing the cancer screening continuum.

Strategic Goal 5: Improve Patient Access and Care

The Affordable Care Act has provided a unique opportunity for opening the door to health coverage to ensure that patients have access to resources and support throughout their cancer journey. Under Strategic Goal 5, the Task Force is building on this foundation and identifying areas with the greatest potential for meaningful impacts for patients by:

  • Improving efficiencies of existing programs and expanding current efforts to increase access to health care;
  • Translating knowledge into workable policies to improve cancer prevention, detection, and quality of care; and
  • Finding new ways of ensuring each and every patient receives quality care during treatment and survivorship.

With these goals in mind, the Task Force launched a series of activities in 2016 and developed plans to serve as a “blueprint” for future Administrations (summarized below). Ultimately, through the creation of new paradigms for generating, sharing, and integrating research and clinical data to enhance patient care, the Cancer Moonshot can accelerate the delivery of effective cancer prevention strategies, diagnostics, and treatments to patients in communities around the world.

Cancer Moonshot Implementation Plan: At-a-Glance

Year 1 Accomplishments and Plans

  • Expediting researchers’ access to cancer compounds for research — National Cancer Institute (NCI) Drug Formulary
  • Strategic computing partnership between the Department of Energy (DOE) and NCI to accelerate precision oncology
  • Department of Defense (DoD) launching groundbreaking longitudinal study to revolutionize precision oncology
  • Preclinical research partnership to evaluate the potential of particle beam radiotherapy
  • Creation of an open access resource for sharing cancer data via the Genomic Data Commons
  • Harnessing big data to transform Veteran health through precision medicine
  • Tri-Agency coalition to enhance cancer care — Applied Proteogenomics OrganizationaL Learning and Outcomes (APOLLO) consortium
  • Creation of a new program to accelerate cancer product regulatory review
  • National Institutes of Health (NIH) public-private partnership for accelerating cancer therapies
  • Forging new partnerships to catalyze new drug discovery and development
  • Patents 4 Patients: Establishment of fast-track review for cancer treatment-related patents
  • Crowdsourcing intellectual property data to guide cancer investments
  • Making clinical research trials more accessible to cancer patients
  • Strengthening and clarifying the requirements for public availability of clinical trial information
  • Promoting human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccination as cancer prevention
  • Partnership to avoid carcinogenic risks by reducing radon exposure
  • Improving patient access to medications and information
  • New federal incentives for coordinated cancer care
  • Improving cancer survivorship through art

Plans for Year 2 and Beyond

  • Strengthen interactions among agencies and engage additional partners in support of multidisciplinary basic cancer research
  • Expand the implementation of mobile devices and wearable technologies for cancer diagnosis and treatment
  • Create a high-quality performance status tracking system for cancer patients during therapy and long-term follow-up
  • Rapidly analyze the molecular profile of thousands of tumors
  • Create a shared resource of linked clinical datasets
  • Improve the clinical data available for research by creating a tool that converts narrative into standardized data
  • Advance secure and scalable platforms for data and metadata management for sharing and analysis
  • Develop predictive computer algorithms to rapidly develop, test, and validate predictive preclinical models
  • Build collaborative relationships with the private sector and academia
  • Create a knowledgeable, sustainable, and agile biomedical data science workforce
  • Modernize eligibility criteria for clinical trials
  • Pilot large simple trials
  • Develop site/tissue agnostic trials and broaden indications
  • Increase the usage of common control and expansion cohort trials
  • Achieve greater interaction with pharmaceutical sponsors on international trials
  • Create a pilot program for oncology products that utilize real-world evidence
  • Strengthen the quality of intellectual property rights to invest in innovation
  • Improve HPV vaccination rates in the United States
  • Implement smoking cessation strategies across the Medicaid population
  • Screen environmental chemicals through high-throughput in vitro assays
  • Expand colorectal cancer screening efforts in the United States
  • Remove barriers that limit access to colorectal cancer screening
  • Identify and implement culturally and linguistically appropriate cancer education and outreach efforts
  • Require expedited coverage decisions for patients with a cancer diagnosis in the Department of Veterans Affairs system
  • Comprehensively identify cancer survivorship issues and develop solutions to improve health outcomes for cancer survivors
  • Map cancer service delivery and care across the Nation
  • Improve access to care by leveraging technology such as virtual networks

Cancer Moonshot Task Force

Joseph Biden, Jr
Vice President, United States


Charles Bolden, Jr
Administrator, National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Sylvia Mathews Burwell
Secretary, Department of Health and Human Services

Robert Califf, MD
Commissioner, Food and Drug Administration

Ashton Carter, PhD
Secretary, Department of Defense

Jane Chu, PhD
Chairman, National Endowment for the Arts

Francis Collins, MD, PhD
Director, National Institutes of Health

France Córdova, PhD
Director, National Science Foundation

Shaun Donovan
Director, White House Office of Management and Budget

Thomas Frieden, MD, MPH
Director, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Michael Froman, PhD, JD
Ambassador, Trade Representative

John Holdren, PhD
Director, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy

Douglas Lowy, MD
Acting Director National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health

Gina McCarthy
Administrator, Environmental Protection Agency

Robert McDonald
Secretary, Department of Veterans Affairs

Ernest Moniz, PhD
Secretary, Department of Energy

Cecilia Muñoz
Director, White House Domestic Policy Council

Penny Pritzker, JD
Secretary, Department of Commerce

Andrew Slavitt
Acting Administrator, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services

Thomas Vilsack, JD
Secretary, Department of Agriculture

Jeffrey Zients
Director, White House National Economic Council

Cancer Moonshot Task Force Staff

Greg Simon, JD
Executive Director

Lyric Jorgenson, PhD
Deputy Executive Director

Danielle Carnival, PhD
Chief of Staff and Senior Policy Director

Jerry Lee, PhD
Deputy Director for Cancer Research and Technologies

Lauren Leiman, MBA
Senior Director for External Partnerships

Anabella Aspiras, BSN, MPA
Director for Patient Engagement

Kara DeFrias, MEd
Director of User Experience

Lynne O’Brien, JD
Policy Analyst

Katie Collins
Policy Analyst

Kathi Hanna, MS, PhD
Science Writer

Leon Fuerth
Organizational Analyst

Table of Contents

Chapter 1
The Opportunity: Ending Cancer as We Know It

Chapter 2
The Launch: Establishment of a Cancer Moonshot Task Force

Chapter 3
Charting the Course: Organizational Framework

Chapter 4
Liftoff: Cancer Moonshot Implementation Plan

Chapter 5
Reaching Target: Ending Cancer as We Know It

Read previous:
Report to the President from the Vice President

Read next chapter:
The Opportunity: Ending Cancer as We Know It

Download the full Cancer Moonshot Task Force report.



The Cancer Moonshot
Cancer Moonshot℠

The official Medium account of the Vice President’s Cancer Moonshot. Notes may be archived: