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Former Vice President Joe Biden to Call for Urgency in Cancer Fight

Former Vice President Joe Biden will reach out to the science, engineering and health community in a plenary address, highlighting how a patient focused effort can improve the world. | David Lienemann, The White House

Former Vice President Joe Biden will stress the urgency to advance cancer prevention, detection, treatment and care during a newly added plenary address at the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s upcoming 184th Annual Meeting on Sunday, Feb. 18.

The plenary address titled “Punctuated Equilibrium Meets Cancer: Big Promise Requires Big Change” will draw from evolutionary biology’s punctuated equilibrium theory to set out why stable systems such as cancer research sometimes require swift and fundamental change to advance.

In the address – to be live-streamed beginning at 6:30 p.m. Central Standard Time from the 2018 AAAS Annual Meeting in Austin, Texas – Biden will underscore the power and necessity of collaboration across relevant disciplines in science, technology and medicine to summon the knowledge and skills of each and speed advances in cancer care and treatment.

Last summer, Biden launched the Biden Cancer Initiative along with his wife Dr. Jill Biden to continue, outside the federal government, an effort he has led since 2016 to speed advances in cancer research and care.

“Vice President Biden and Dr. Biden have led by example in how they’ve dedicated their lives to public service and to improving lives for all Americans,” said Danielle Carnival, vice president of the Biden Cancer Initiative. “Their commitment to ending cancer as we know it is steadfast, their drive for results is urgent, their ability to bring together people and ideas is unparalleled.”

The initiative is an extension of Biden’s 2016 appointment as head of the Cancer Moonshot Initiative, an assignment President Barack Obama extended, aimed at pulling together federal agencies and private, academic and philanthropic organizations to identify new cancer research topics, break down barriers slowing advances and pinpoint necessary investment areas to advance the fight against cancer.

Other targets of the initiative have focused on instituting ways to build collaboration among academic, nonprofit and private sector efforts, including international groups and to increase federal funding, an effort that spurred Congress to pass in December 2016 the 21st Century Cures Act that authorized $1.8 billion for the National Cancer Institute.

“Every minute, every day matters to patients and we must bring that sense of urgency to cancer research and care systems,” said Biden in launching the Biden Care Initiative on June 26, 2017. “We are joining everyone who spends their days thinking about preventing cancer, about better understanding its biological basis, about bringing early detection and education to all communities, about developing new treatments and therapies and about caring for patients and their families through some of the hardest days anyone faces.”

Biden brings to the effort his own family tragedy, the December 2015 death of his son Beau to brain cancer. Since then, he and Dr. Biden have worked to enhance public data sharing among federal and academic research institutions and to prompt medical facilities to find ways to share more rapidly and easily share diagnostic test results.

[Associated image: Daniel Sone/National Cancer Institute (Public Domain)]