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Home HEALTH Biden Rekindles Cancer Moonshot on Anniversary of Kennedy's 1962 Lunar Speech: NPR

Biden Rekindles Cancer Moonshot on Anniversary of Kennedy’s 1962 Lunar Speech: NPR


President Joe Biden speaks about the Moonshot Cancer Initiative at the John F. Kennedy Library and Museum in Boston on September 12.

Evan Vucci/AP


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Evan Vucci/AP


President Joe Biden speaks about the Moonshot Cancer Initiative at the John F. Kennedy Library and Museum in Boston on September 12.

Evan Vucci/AP

It has been 60 years since President Kennedy delivered his iconic lunar speech, marking America’s goal of launching a man into space to step on the moon and bring him back to Earth.

On Monday, President Biden delivered a speech at the Kennedy Presidential Library in Boston, in which he outlined the progress of his own self-described journey to the moon: ending cancer.

“This cancer opportunity is one of the reasons I ran for president,” Biden said. “Cancer doesn’t discriminate red and blue. It doesn’t matter if you’re a Republican or a Democrat. Beating cancer is something we can do together.”

Biden said cancer is often diagnosed too late, saying “there are very few ways to prevent it in the first place.” He also added that there are stark disparities in cancer diagnosis and treatment based on race, disability, ZIP code, sexual orientation and gender identity.

“We know very little about why treatments work for some patients but don’t work for a different patient with the same disease. We are still lacking strategies to develop treatments for some types of cancer,” he said, adding “not doing what enough to help patients and their families navigate the cancer care system.

While Biden announced many of his cancer goals in February, he provided some updates in his speech on Monday.

Prior to the speech, the White House announced that Dr. Renee Wegrzyn would be named director of a new agency, the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H), the first person to serve. The agency was established by Biden in February to improve the US government’s ability to advance health and biomedical research.

“ARPA-H will have the singular purpose of driving advances in preventing, detecting and treating diseases, including cancer, Alzheimer’s, diabetes and other diseases, and enabling us to live healthier lives,” Biden said.

Biden also announced that he is signing a new executive order launching a National Biotechnology and Biomanufacturing Initiative, to help ensure that the technology that will help end cancer is made in the United States.

He said that creating new technologies for cancer treatments and other things will create jobs and strengthen supply chains, adding that the US would then not have to rely on anywhere else in the world for that breakthrough.

In February, Biden first announced his goal of cutting cancer deaths in half over the next 25 years and improving the experience of people living with and surviving cancer. At the time, he also announced the creation of a Cancer Cabinet that incorporated different corners of the government to work on his goal.

Fighting cancer is an issue that Biden has been tackling since his days as vice president and it is one that closely affects his own family and Vice President Kamala Harris as well. Biden’s son, Beau Biden, died of brain cancer in 2015. And Harris’s mother, Shyamala Gopalan Harris, who was a breast cancer researcher, died of colon cancer in 2009.

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