The Cancer Moonshot Initiative

Tyler Jacks works at MIT
"We are at an exciting time in our understanding of cancer and the way we're approaching how we treat it..." Tyler Jacks Ph.D. Watch video in this article.
In his last year as President, Obama has tasked Vice President Joe Biden with one of the most important scientific initiatives of our time. In four years’ time and just over fifty years after the original Moonshot, Biden hopes to reach a hypothetical moon by finding a cure for cancer.

Since then, VP Biden has been hard at work collaborating with our nation’s top doctors, researchers, and health organizations in order to set the Moonshot up for success. The goals set forward by the Vice President for the initiative are

  • Accelerate our understanding of cancer and its prevention, early detection, treatment, and cure
  • Improve patient access and care
  • Support greater access to new research, data, and computational capabilities
  • Encourage development of cancer treatments
  • Identify and address any unnecessary regulatory barriers and consider ways to expedite administrative reforms
  • Ensure optimal investment of federal resources
  • Identify opportunities to develop public-private partnerships and increase coordination of the federal government's efforts with the private sector, as appropriate.

With these goals, the Moonshot stands its best chance to accomplish what it sets out to do while allowing organizations to work with one another without the usual restraints.

Where are we?

Since kicking off the initiative on January 12, 2016, we’ve already come a great way. Vice President Biden outlined the overall goals of the moonshot, as stated above, and two weeks after being tasked with this lofty objective had already established the task force that will undertake the initiative.

And the goal of this initiative is simple — to double the rate of progress. To make a decade worth of advances in five years.

Most recently, cancer experts, doctors, and advocates selected for the Blue Ribbon Panel provided initial guidelines for the Moonshot initiative’s goals. The panel focused on making recommendations to help move science  so as make "a decade's worth of progress in cancer prevention, diagnosis and treatment in just five years."

It's not just about developing game-changing treatments — it's about delivering them to those who need them.

Next steps for the Moonshot will be to make the collaborative researching and data a reality. As a groundbreaking idea that eliminates the barriers between the different sectors of the cancer research, treatment, and prevention industries, this collaboration will be key in providing the most up-to-date and accurate information for cancer patients.

With the increased sharing of information between organizations, cancer centers, and doctors, patients of cancers that are resistant to many known treatments have hope. Immunotherapy, a treatment that encourages the patient’s own immune system to fight back against the cancer, is known to have shown promise for many different types of cancers, including melanoma and rarer cancers like mesothelioma.

What needs to happen?

With our nation’s leaders at the head of this initiative, now is the time to show support and help direct the next moon shot. Vice President Biden is asking anyone with ties to cancer, share your story and any suggestions you might have. We, as a country, can work together to find new and better ways to prevent, treat, and cure cancer.

Emily Walsh, the Community Outreach Director at the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance, works to raise awareness for mesothelioma and other asbestos related diseases. 

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