To a crowd of more than 1,300 attendees at the South by Southwest Conference (SXSW) in Austin, TX, on March 12, 2017, former Vice President Joe Biden announced that the Biden Foundation, his new nonprofit organization, would be continuing the work of the National Cancer Moonshot Initiative, which he led during his final year as vice president.
During President Obama’s final State of the Union Address in 2016, the former president tasked Biden with leading the nation’s effort to advance the fight against cancer. From that moment, Biden brought together the public and private sectors of health care, research, and technology to focus on providing a quantum leap in cancer research and treatment progress in just five years. With that same goal in mind, Biden will continue the Cancer Moonshot’s work through the Biden Foundation.
In his speech, Biden shared his experience of losing his son, Beau, to brain cancer in May 2015. “In part, the goal of the Biden Foundation’s cancer initiative is to spare other families what our family, and so many other families have gone through.”
As one of the leading conferences for innovators and technology developers, SXSW provided Biden the opportunity to encourage his audience to share their expertise in the fight against cancer (Yamato, 2017). He noted conference attendees’ ability to engage the public through cutting-edge technology, smartphone apps, and new web-based tools. He also emphasized the ability of developers to reach wider audiences than ever before and hoped they’d work to inform the public of dangerous, cancer-related behavioral risk factors and ways to prevent or detect future cancer diagnoses.
Biden also spoke to the highly charged political environment in the United States. “Guess what?” he said, “The only bipartisan thing left in America is the fight against cancer.” He pointed to the recently passed 21st Century Cures Act, which garnered support from both sides of the aisle, including healthcare organizations like ONS, and will provide an additional $6.3 billion in funding for a number of healthcare initiatives.
After Biden’s term as vice president concluded, the future of the Cancer Moonshot and whether he would continue to lead the charge in the fight against cancer were undetermined. It’s clear now that the former vice president is still committed to furthering research and treatment options, acting as a liaison between government officials and the private sector. Oncology nurses will play an integral role as the Cancer Moonshot continues to unfold and transform cancer care in years to come.