What Vice President Biden’s ‘Moonshot’ to Cure Cancer Means for Organizations and Patients

Monshot to the Moon Cancer Initiative

Image via the New York Times

In his last State of the Union address on January 12, 2016, President Barrack Obama announced the establishment of the National Cancer Moonshot initiative to be led by Vice President Joe Biden. The $1 billion initiative will accelerate cancer research efforts by breaking down barriers to progress. Through promoting data sharing and facilitating collaborations, the National Cancer Moonshot initiative aims to expedite a decade’s worth of advances in five years, advancing cancer prevention, treatment, and care.


Joe Biden had his own personal brush with cancer after losing his son, Beau, to brain cancer. In his address to the Cancer Moonshot Summit, Biden remarked, “I am not a researcher. I am not an oncologist. I am not a geneticist. I am a Vice President of the United States. But I’ve been on the other end of the need.” Biden will lead the Cancer Moonshot Task Force while being advised by the Blue Ribbon Panel.


The Blue Ribbon Panel is composed of leading experts from a broad range of scientific areas, including biology, immunology, genomics, diagnostics, bioinformatics, and cancer prevention and treatment. Of the 28 leading experts named to the panel, one of San Diego’s own, María Elena Martínez, was chosen to help guide the scientific research direction of the Moonshot initiative.


Dr. Martínez will head up the Implemetation Sciences Working Group, focused on studying the impact of cancer on large populations in order to influence the practices, policies, and programs that directly affect the health of millions of people each year. Dr. Martínez’s own research centers on cancer disparities. She claims, “medical breakthroughs, including new technology and new drugs to treat cancer, may only become accessible to individuals and patients with greater resources who get care in certain clinics and hospitals.” As a pioneer in this relatively new research area, Dr. Martínez’s voice on the Blue Ribbon Panel will help ensure that, “progress resulting from cancer research is translated and available to all communities,” because, “[we] cannot ignore cultural and financial factors that get in the way.”


As the Sam M. Walton Endowed Chair for Cancer Research at the Moores Cancer Center at UC San Diego Health, one of the beneficiaries of Padres Pedal, Dr. Martínez is not the only Pedal beneficiary to play an important role in the Cancer Moonshot initiative.


The Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute in La Jolla, another Padres Pedal beneficiary, held a symposium on the state of cancer research on June 29th as part of the national Cancer Moonshot Summit. Scientists from across San Diego County came together to advise and help shape the government initiatives for the National Cancer Moonshot. Renowned researchers from Salk Institute, Rady Children’s Hospital, and UC San Diego Health were in attendance.


Their research plays an important role in the collaboration and dissemination of data as a main goal of the Moonshot initiative. And these researchers and institutions rely on local support to help fund their essential studies and projects, thus making Padres Pedal an essential cog turning the Moonshot initiative into a success. As the Moonshot initiative states, “It’s on all of us to help carry this work forward.”

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