President Joe Biden urged the nation to come together to fight cancer, the second most common cause of death in America, during an impassioned speech on Monday marking the renewal of his “cancer moonshot.”
Speaking at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston 60 years after the building’s namesake gave his famed moonshot speech, Biden appealed to Americans across political lines, saying the nation was poised to end the disease “as we know it.”
The president harked back to the Kennedy era, comparing the effort to the space race and Americans’ ultimate journey to the moon.
“I believe we can usher in the same unwillingness to postpone, the same national purpose that will serve to energize and measure the best of our skills, to end cancer as we know it, and even cure cancer once and for all,” he said.
The effort aims to slash U.S. fatalities from cancers by 50% over the next quarter century and see many more cancers become chronic conditions that are treatable rather than fatal. Cancer is expected to kill more than 609,000 Americans in 2022, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a toll exceeded only by deaths from heart disease.
Biden added that the plan was “bold, ambitious, and, I might add, completely doable,” pointing to existing technology and the promise of medical advancements.
“This cancer moonshot is one of the reasons why I ran for president,” Biden said. “Cancer does not discriminate red and blue. It doesn’t care if you’re a Republican or a Democrat. Beating cancer is something we can do together.”
Biden announced Dr. Renee Wegrzyn as the inaugural director of a new arm of the government, the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health, or ARPA-H, on Monday. The body will lead the nation’s efforts in health and biomedical research and “drive breakthroughs to prevent, detect and treat diseases” including cancer, Alzheimer’s and diabetes, the president said.
Biden said he will sign a new executive order ensuring that such treatments are manufactured in America, an effort he said would enable the country to lead “the world in biotechnology and biomanufacturing, creating jobs and strengthening the supply chain.”
“It’s not enough to invent technology that saves lives,” Biden said. “We need to manufacture advanced biotechnologies here in the United States.”
The cancer moonshot was first announced in February, and Biden has long urged the nation to come together to eradicate or ease the burden of the disease.
The president’s son Beau Biden died of brain cancer in 2015.
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