Joe Biden spoke at the South by Southwest conference in Austin on Sunday, talking about continuing the work of the “cancer moonshot” initiative, first announced by President Obama during the 2016 State of the Union address. At the time, Obama put Biden “in charge of mission control” for a national initiative to cure cancer, which kills hundreds of thousands of Americans each year. Biden’s son, former Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden, died of brain cancer in 2015.
At South by Southwest, Biden gave a wide-ranging and at times emotional presentation, citing treatment advances like immunotherapy and particle beam therapy. He also said that cancer data from the Veterans Administration could be analyzed by Dept. of Energy supercomputers to find “new patterns” to help with research, one of the suggestions in the Cancer Moonshot Blue Ribbon Panel Report, released last year.
In January, Biden said he had offered to help the Trump administration carry on the mission to end cancer. But he also said he would create the Biden Cancer Initiative, where the primary focus would be on working on community collaboration between scientists, so that research would be widely shared across specialties.
On Sunday, Biden again mentioned working with the new administration. From a Texas Tribune report:
“It is my hope that this new administration, once it gets organized — and I’m not being facetious — will be able to focus on and be as committed and as enthusiastic as we were in the goal of ending cancer as we know it,” Biden said. “I will do everything in my power to work with the new administration.”
And more from the LA Times:
Biden had come to SXSW to recruit talent. Addressing an audience that included techies and innovators, he pointed out how easy websites and apps had made it to buy movie tickets or cash checks at the swipe of a finger on a smartphone, then wondered why cancer patients like his son couldn’t just as easily send test results from one hospital to another.
“Many of you are developing technologies and innovations for purposes large and small, fun and serious, entertaining and lifesaving, that have nothing to do with cancer — but you could make a gigantic impact,” he said, his voice booming. “We need you to help us reach people who need to change their behavior and avoid cancer. You’re doing it to help them figure out how to buy a product… We need to reach people.”
And USA Today:
Biden said the idea for the White House Moonshot Cancer initiative came as he and Obama headed to the White House Rose Garden in October 2015 to announce that Biden would not be running for president. Asked by Obama if he had any regrets, Biden said he had one: “I would have loved to be the president who presided over the end of cancer, as we know it.” Three months later, Obama announced the creation of the initiative in his final State of the Union address — to the surprise of Biden, he said.
Biden also mentioned during his presentation that Amazon.com had contacted him to offer free cloud computing space for the project.
Associated Press contributed to this report.