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Vice President Joe Biden gives opening remarks at the Cancer Moonshot Summit at Howard University in Washington, D.C., June 29, 2016. (Official White House Photo by David Lienemann)
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Why Now?

The Cancer Moonshot
Oct 17, 2016 · 10 min read

We asked each of the Cancer Moonshot Task Force, “Why is now the right time for the Cancer Moonshot to happen?” The Cancer Moonshot Task Force Report details the action their respective agencies have taken, and will be taking, but we wanted to hear from the top brass what they thought.

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Administrator Charles Bolden, Jr. (Biography)

Administrator, National Aeronautics and Space Administration

“As the team at NASA who delivered the original ‘moonshot’ demonstrated, the answer to ‘why now?’ is always, ‘why not now?’ Why now? Because people are dying. Why now? Because we are on the verge of real breakthroughs. Why now? Because the more work we do today, the more lives we save tomorrow. That’s why we must all do our part — right now — in the fight against cancer.”

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Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell (Biography)

Secretary, Department of Health and Human Service

“With the Vice President’s Cancer Moonshot, we have an opportunity to unleash the power of medical science to enhance patient care and save lives in communities across our country. We need to seize this opportunity to accelerate progress in our fight against cancer because we know we don’t have a moment to spare and as a Nation we should do no less.”

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Commissioner Robert Califf (Biography)

Commissioner, Food and Drug Administration

“Extraordinary advances in our understanding of cancer biology have led to more effective drugs and biologics and their companion diagnostics that are capable of precisely targeting patients who will benefit. Today we can work together in new ways to design more efficient clinical studies capable of providing new opportunities for patient participation while answering complex questions more quickly and with improved precision.”

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Secretary Ashton Carter (Biography)

Secretary, Department of Defense

“Our people are our greatest asset and a healthy force is a critical component of our readiness. Together we can achieve the goals of the Cancer Moonshot by leveraging recent technological advances and our robust data systems to develop new ways to improve and maintain the health of our Nation’s warriors. Using nanotechnology will increase our ability to visualize and treat cancers at their earliest signs of development. Likewise, leveraging the advances in proteogenomic science with our data systems will help us to detect and target specific cancer treatment to optimize health outcomes.”

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Chairman Jane Chu (Biography)

Chairman, National Endowment for the Arts

“For anyone who has been through the arduous experience of having cancer, we have also seen powerful, therapeutic effects of being involved in the arts. There’s a soothing and restorative quality in the act of creating that allows us to have those moments of expressing ourselves in new ways, with new ideas; those moments where we feel like we’re moving forward, instead of being stuck. We have seen patients increase their ability to manage stress, as well as their physical and emotional pain when they expressed themselves through the arts; which in turn, has given patients more personal control during treatment.”

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Director Francis Collins (Biography)

Director, National Institutes of Health

“Thanks to the convergence of new scientific insights and technological innovations, prospects for success against cancer are better than ever before. Advances arising from the Human Genome Project have taught us much. Indeed, knowledge of what genomic changes are present in a patient’s tumor is becoming more important for successful treatment than knowing where in the body it arose. Some patients are now responding dramatically to this new generation of cancer therapies, and our goal is to make such powerful treatments available for all kinds of cancer.”

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Director France Córdova (Biography)

Director, National Science Foundation

“Through the convergence of scientific fields to address grand challenges, we have the opportunity to catalyze one of the most exciting movements in cancer research. Biologists, physical and computer scientists, and engineers and more are coming together to provide important new perspectives, and these interdisciplinary teams are exploring the use of systems and synthetic biology to advance cancer research and treatment.”

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Director Shaun Donovan (Biography)

Director, White House Office of Management and Budget

“A challenge like cancer requires a coordinated response across the scientific research community. As we seek to fully realize the potential of new technologies and biomedical innovations, the Cancer Moonshot will open the doors to collaboration across agencies and the private sector.”

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Director Frieden (Biography)

Director, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

“We know cancer prevention and control works — now we need to act. The work of the Cancer Moonshot brings a heightened focus on the opportunity to prevent many types of cancer from occurring in the first place.”

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Ambassador Michael Froman (Biography)

Ambassador, Trade Representative

“Curing cancer is a defining challenge of our time. After decades of effort, we are in a better position today than ever before to promote innovation, catalyze new breakthroughs in science and technology, form new partnerships between stakeholders, jumpstart research and treatment, and ultimately, end cancer. The Cancer Moonshot represents the best of America: working with partners around the world, confronting our challenges head-on, pushing the bounds of science and technology, and leading global efforts to make the world a better place for our children.”

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Director John Holdren (Biography)

Director, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy

“A convergence of multiple lines of scientific and technological advance has made this the right time to invest bigtime in accelerating progress against cancer. These include extraordinary progress in immunotherapy, genomics, proteomics, microbiomes, big data, machine learning, and electronic health records. The potential of combining these advances presents an irresistible opportunity.”

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Acting Director Douglas Lowy (Biography)

Acting Director National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health

“Following years of investment and many scientific advances, we now possess a much deeper understanding of cancer, and this knowledge has already led to new ways to prevent, screen, and treat it. But far too many people still suffer from the disease, and we must address the many challenges that still face patients and their loved ones. We have the opportunity to create a new chapter of progress in the fight against cancer by redoubling our efforts and working together, ultimately reducing the likelihood of people developing cancer and to improving the lives of patients who do develop it.”

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Administrator Gina McCarthy (Biography)

Administrator, Environmental Protection Agency

“Major advances in biotechnology, chemical testing, and computational science are contributing to the Nation’s understanding of the environmental determinants of cancer. Today we have an unprecedented opportunity to advance the best science needed to make gains in preventing, diagnosing, and treating cancer and we are more prepared than ever to achieve the Cancer Moonshot mission.”

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Secretary Robert McDonald (Biography)

Secretary, Department of Veterans Affairs

“Curing cancer takes everybody investing together. Already we have seen progress in immunotherapy, genomics, proteomics, microbiomes, big data, machine learning, and electronic health records. Now is the time to work together to transform these advances into real gains in cancer screening, diagnosis, and treatment to push the needle forward for all Americans that are touched by cancer.”

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Secretary Ernest Moniz (Biography)

Secretary, Department of Energy

“The next generation of supercomputers are uniquely positioned to both advance the Nation’s innovation agenda and support the transformative advances in cancer research and care. The computational power will not only analyze data faster, but will use artificial intelligence and personalized simulations to give cancer researchers, drug developers, care providers, and patients entirely new strategies to beat cancer. We’ve seen the positive impact that our supercomputers can have on complex projects such as the first sequencing of the human genome — and they are poised to be the catalyst for similar breakthroughs in cancer research.”

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Director Cecilia Muñoz (Biography)

Cecilia Muñoz
Director, Domestic Policy Council

“This Administration has led the charge to improve the lives of people with cancer through the Affordable Care Act, ensuring that health insurance companies can no longer deny or charge more for coverage because of cancer and that they cover preventive cancer screenings without cost-sharing or imposing annual or life-time limits on payments for cancer — or any — care. The Cancer Moonshot is building on this legacy by jumpstarting the next wave of cancer prevention, diagnostic, and treatment innovations to deliver a decade worth of advances in the next five years.”

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Secretary Penny Pritzker (Biography)

Secretary, Department of Commerce

“Every effort to find a cure for a devastating illness impacting too many American lives each day demands that we work together, break down silos, and leave no stone unturned. We understand that knowledge is the key to winning this battle — that means we have to optimize access to all our data, streamline patent approvals for treatments, and support clinical research to prevent, detect, treat, and ultimately eradicate this disease. All such steps, if taken in tandem, will help us make progress towards a cure.”

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Acting Administrator Andrew Slavitt (Biography)

Acting Administrator, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services

“Curing cancer takes everybody investing together. We are at a time of such great scientific possibility and have an opportunity as a Nation to prioritize making certain that everyone benefits from these advances. Together, we can provide our health care system renewed feedback on what’s working and what’s not.”

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Secretary Thomas Vilsack (Biography)

Secretary, Department of Agriculture

“Today, we understand that cancer requires an all-of-the-above approach — from ensuring access to healthy diets and health care for all Americans, no matter where they live, to investing in scientific research that is closer than ever to finding a cure. The Cancer Moonshot will channel all of our collective resources toward this singular goal.”

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Director Jeffrey Zients (Biography)

Director, White House National Economic Council

“Beyond its physical and emotional impact, cancer can have a profound economic effect on families. ‎Fighting cancer presents an opportunity to not only alleviate the immense human toll of the disease, but also to relieve the financial burdens faced by too many Americans families.”

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Read previous chapter:
Reaching Target: Ending Cancer as We Know It

Download the full Cancer Moonshot Task Force report.

Cancer Moonshot℠

Read the stories of the Administration’s work to double the…

The Cancer Moonshot

Written by

The official Medium account of the Vice President’s Cancer Moonshot. Notes may be archived: http://wh.gov/privacy.

Cancer Moonshot℠

Read the stories of the Administration’s work to double the rate of progress toward a cure

The Cancer Moonshot

Written by

The official Medium account of the Vice President’s Cancer Moonshot. Notes may be archived: http://wh.gov/privacy.

Cancer Moonshot℠

Read the stories of the Administration’s work to double the rate of progress toward a cure

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