Vice President Joe Biden on Wednesday stressed the importance of research data-sharing and affordability in cancer treatments as goals for his Cancer Moonshot initiative. He also threatened to pull federal funding for cancer studies that fail to publicly disclose their results.
The daylong gathering of doctors, patients, survivors and academics at Howard University in Washington D.C. was the first large public event as part of the initiative President Barack Obama announced in January, instructing Biden to "make America the country that cures cancer once and for all."
In his opening remarks Wednesday, Biden said that while cancer is a complicated set of diseases, ending it is possible if industries change the culture that deters risk taking and “turns scientists into grant writers.”
“We have to improve how we work together and get this all in our reach,” he said.
Biden has been pushing cancer researchers to share their data and trial results more freely in an effort to build on each other's progress. His comments at Wednesday's summit marks the first time Biden has made threats to pulling grants from the National Institutes of Health.
Biden also announced several public-private partnerships that are being established to support the moonshot initiative.
The National Cancer Institute will be working with many pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies to speed up research and will also be redesigning how patients and doctors are informed about clinical trial.
Biden acknowledged that government requirements can stifle researchers' attempts at innovation and quick progress, but also called out major hospitals and other institutions for not doing enough to work together.
The focus Wednesday on private partnerships drew attention away from the lack of Congress-approved funding for the moonshot initiative. Obama asked for more than $1 billion for the effort but only a fraction has gone through.
Biden said the past few years have included many important breakthroughs, but he still believes the plan “can make exponential progress.”
The White House said it is developing at a rule to enforce the requirement that clinical trial results be posted online quickly.