Former Vice President Joe Biden said the U.S. is “right on the cusp of making some real dramatic changes” in the war on cancer, hailing a wide range of new treatments and initiatives aimed at making the disease a manageable condition for millions.
Biden and his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, were honored this week by the Regenerative Medicine Foundation for their cancer patient-advocacy work as part of the newly founded Biden Cancer Initiative. The Bidens were presented the 2018 Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine Action Advocacy Award at the 13th annual World Stem Cell Summit in Miami.
“We will change the face of cancer in our lifetime because of the work of Joe and Jill Biden,” said Greg Simon, executive director of the Biden Cancer Initiative, accepting the award on behalf of the Bidens. The initiative was founded last June to marshal scientific, political, commercial and patient-centered efforts to boost cancer prevention, detection, treatment, and care.
Although the Bidens did not attend the conference, the former vice president hailed the progress being made in the war on cancer in a video feed during the awards ceremony Tuesday night.
“The issue here is that we have over 16 million people a year diagnosed with cancer and you’ve got a whole lot dying,” said Biden. “The one thing that everyone has in common all around the world is this fear of cancer.
“As a consequence [the initiative has corralled] some of the greatest minds in the world dealing with the fight against cancer. But we’re right on the cusp, right on the cusp of making some real dramatic changes.”
Simon told conference attendees the war on cancer is gaining steam.
“In 1971 when the first war on cancer got announced we had no idea what cancer was all about,” he said. “Back then they didn’t have an army, but they started one. Today we have an army, but we needed somebody to marshal that army. And that’s what Vice President Biden has been asked to do.”
In an interview with Newsmax Health, Simon noted there have been great strides in just the past decade in the fields of stem cell research, immunotherapy, and genetics to combat cancer. Simon, who was diagnosed and successfully treated for chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) 12 years ago, said his own experiences exemplify the dramatic improvements in treatments for those diagnosed with cancer.
“We've made a lot of progress in cancer,” he said. “I'm a CLL survivor and 10 years ago I wouldn't have been able to say that.”
In presenting the award, the RMF – a nonprofit devoted to the research and development of stem cell therapies and other regenerative medicine techniques for cancer and other chronic health conditions – credited the vice president with leading the effort to pass the 21st Century Cures Act. That measure provides $1.8 billion over seven years for the so-called “Cancer Moonshot” effort that former President Barack Obama appointed Biden to direct.
“Vice President Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden have demonstrated their leadership in and commitment to improving cancer research and care by injecting a sense of urgency and reimagining how the government, academia, non-profits, and the private sector can better organize their resources and systems,” said the RMF awards judges.
“Vice President Biden’s leadership of the national ‘Cancer Moonshot’ effort dramatically advanced efforts to prevent, diagnose, and treat cancer. The Cancer Moonshot launched a series of coordinated efforts that incentivized bold, creative, and disruptive approaches to conducting cancer research, promoting prevention, and addressing critical needs in cancer care. In addition to driving this progress in both the public and private sectors.”
In addition to promoting the Cancer Moonshot project, the Bidens launched the Biden Cancer Initiative last June with a goal of “developing and driving the implementation of solutions to accelerate progress in cancer prevention, detection, diagnosis, research, and care, and to reducing disparities in cancer outcomes.”
The Bidens have also been very outspoken about the personal toll cancer takes on a family since their son, Beau, died at the age of 46 in May 2015 after battling brain cancer.
Other 2018 RMF award winners announced this week:
Leadership Award: Ed Bosarge — chairman and founder of Black Beret Life Sciences, which promotes the approval of safe and effective cell-based therapies.
Advocacy Award: Shelley Ross — president of the Cure Alliance, a non-profit group of top scientists, researchers, medical doctors and innovators, working to develop cures for chronic, debilitating and fatal diseases.
Inspiration Award: Adrienne Bell-Cors Shapiro — founder and science administrator of the Axis Advocacy Sickle Cell Disease website, a patient advocacy resource.
International Leadership: Norio Nakatsuji — founding director of the Institute for Integrated Cell-Material Sciences at Kyoto University in Japan, which advances cross-disciplinary research and technological innovation based on cell biology, chemistry, and physics.
For more information, visit the RMF Website at www.regmedfoundation.org.
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