President Obama is calling on America’s medical research industry to cure cancer.
In his final State of the Union address, delivered Jan. 12, Mr. Obama compared this moment to that embraced by the nation in response to the Soviet Union’s foray into space: Within 12 years, Americans stepped foot on the Moon.
“Last year, Vice President [Joe] Biden said that, with a new moon shot, America can cure cancer,” President Obama said. “Tonight, I’m announcing a new national effort to get it done.”
No further details were given, except that Vice President Biden is being put “in charge of Mission Control,” after noting his role in getting increased funding in the recent budget for the National Institutes of Health.
The American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) applauded the commitment to curing cancer.
“We have indeed reached an inflection point, where the number of discoveries that are being made at such an accelerated pace are saving lives and bringing enormous hope for cancer patients, even those with advanced disease,” Dr. José Baselga, AACR president, said in a statement. “Now is the time for a major new initiative in cancer science that supports and builds upon our basic science foundation while translating these exciting scientific discoveries into improved treatments for cancer patients, such as in the areas of genomics, precision medicine, and immuno-oncology.”
The AACR said that members of its organization were among a group that met with Vice President Biden on Jan. 8 to discuss the state of cancer research.
The American Society of Clinical Oncology concurred.
“With nearly 1.7 million people in the United States diagnosed with cancer each year, and the incidence of cancer expected to rise to 2.3 million cases per year by 2030, it is imperative that we do all we can to bring more effective treatments from the laboratory bench to the patient’s bedside as quickly as possible,” Dr. Richard L. Schilsky, ASCO chief medical officer, said in a statement. “We must recommit to vastly speeding the discovery of new cancer treatments and enabling the possibility of precision medicine for every individual with cancer.”
The annual address to Congress was light on health care issues, with President Obama acknowledging U.S. leadership in helping to halt the Ebola epidemic and adding that “we are on track to end the scourge of HIV/AIDS, and we have the capacity to accomplish the same thing with malaria – something I’ll be pushing this Congress to fund this year.”
Rather, President Obama focused more on the economy and the security of the nation, as well as calling on Americans to be more active in voting and the overall political process.