Joe Biden calls on innovators to help stop cancer

Biden, whose son Beau died from brain cancer in 2015, delivered an emotional speech at the South by Southwest technology summit in Austin, Texas, about continuing the work he led under former Democratic President Barack Obama in the so-called "Cancer Moonshot", an initiative aimed at speeding up research into new cancer therapies. "Many of you are developing technologies and innovations for purposes large and small, fun and serious, entertaining and life-saving". "We need you to help us reach people to change their behavior".

In January Biden announced the launch of his Biden Foundation Cancer Initiative, which focuses on improving data standards for cancer researchers, and access to and affordability of cancer treatment for patients.

One of the main themes of Biden's speech was collaboration.

For all the private-sector money that's being invested in cancer research, the bulk of it is still provided by taxpayers: "billions and billions of dollars", Biden said in a Carl Sagan-esque voice that got a laugh from the audience. His only regret, he recalled telling reporters in the White House Rose Garden at the time: "I would have loved to have been the president to preside over the end of cancer as we know it". If you aren't in the Lone Star State's capital city to catch Biden's speech, there's a good chance his remarks will be shown via the official SXSW live stream service.

Biden's wife, Jill, was scheduled to introduce her husband on Sunday, and the two will likely talk about how they plan to make confronting and curing cancer a priority in their post-politics lives. "Some of the most innovative minds in the world are sitting in front of me", Biden said.

President Obama gave Biden a long leash to help accelerate cancer research.

Fighting cancer is the last bipartisan issue, according to former Vice President Joe Biden, and he said he will do everything in his power to work with the Trump administration to end the disease.


"You might think at a time when Facebook has an algorithm to tell if someone is exhibiting potentially suicidal tendencies, that medical centers might be able to detect if someone has a risk for cancer", Biden said.

"I am optimistic. I'm optimistic about the American people".

"The core of Republicans in the Congress and Democrats are good, decent, honorable people being nearly artificially separated by a new kind of partisanship", Biden said.

For now, though, the Obama administration's WhiteHouse.gov pages on the effort are missing and a search for "cancer moonshot" returns zero results. Biden did, however, note that the current administration's failure to embrace the concept of global warming "frustrates" him.

"Your generation could be the first generation on earth that goes through life with a completely different understanding of cancer as preventable ... instead of a death sentence ... We can make enormous, enormous, enormous progress", said Biden.

Biden also told the crowd that he would have wanted to be the president who ended cancer.

  • Annette Adams