Big dreams need big data. And former Vice President Joe Biden believes his National Cancer Moonshot initiative needs lots of it — shared in ways like never before — to find a cure.
The initiative aims to accelerate research efforts and break down barriers to progress by enhancing data access and facilitating collaborations with researchers, doctors, philanthropies, patients and patient advocates, and biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies.
In response to a call to action from President Barack Obama in his final State of the Union Address, Biden — whose son, former Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden, lost his battle with brain cancer in 2015 at age 46 — stepped up to spearhead head this new, national effort to end cancer. Its mission: to achieve a decades' worth of progress in five years in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer.
That's quite a lofty goal for a health problem that continues to grow at an alarming rate, primarily due to the growth and aging of the population.
According to the American Cancer Society, it is estimated that in the United States 600,920 people — or 1,650 people per day — will die from cancer in 2017; another 1,688,780 new cases will be diagnosed. Except for heart disease, cancer is the second most common cause of death in the United States, exceeded only by heart disease. Worldwide, cancer accounts for 1 in every 7 deaths, said the ACA, and in 2030 about 21.6 million new cancer cases and 13 million cancer deaths are expected to occur.
But the first big hurdle may be more down to Earth: funding.
In December 2016 Congress passed the 21st Century Cures Act under President Barack Obama. The bill provides for $4.8 billion in new funding for the National Institutes of Health over the next decade. Of that, $1.8 billion is earmarked for Cancer Moonshot. But Trump's proposal in March to cut the National Institutes of Health's budget by 20 percent, from $31.8 billion to $26 billion, would mean a massive $1 billion cut to the National Cancer Institute, which helps fund Cancer Moonshot research as well as the 21st Century Cures Act.