White House Wants $1 Billion in Cancer Moonshot Funding

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US Vice President Joe Biden takes part in a session on the theme "Cancer Mooshot: A Call to action" during the World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos, on Jan. 19, 2016.  (Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images)

President Barack Obama will ask Congress for $755 million for cancer research in his upcoming budget, the White House said Monday, bringing the total price tag for Vice President Joe Biden's cancer "moonshot" to $1 billion.

Research into immunotherapy, combination therapy and early detection techniques will be at the center of new programs the administration hopes to create at the National Institutes of Health and the Food and Drug Administration. Vaccines to prevent viruses that cause cancer are another focus, officials said, laying out for the first time how Biden will seek to fulfill his goal of doubling the rate of progress toward curing cancer.

"Our job is to clear out the bureaucratic hurdles, and let science happen," Biden said in an email to supporters.

With less than a year left in office, Biden is working to kick start federal engagement on curing cancer, which claimed his 46-year-old son last year. Obama, in his State of the Union address, gave the effort his stamp of approval.

Obama on Monday attended the first meeting of a new federal task force — chaired by Biden — bringing various health and scientific agencies together with the Pentagon and others. Biden told the assembled officials, which included the secretaries of Energy and of Health and Human Services, that achieving the goal would "take a whole-of-government approach."


The $755 million request, which Congress must approve, will come in Obama's final budget proposal Feb. 9. Those funds would join another $195 million in new cancer funding Congress approved in its budget deal late last year. The White House said the Defense and Veterans Affairs departments would also boost investment in cancer research.

Biden has been urging more sharing of data, trial results and other information between institutions working on cancer. Biden hasn't explained how he'll measure whether he's doubled the rate of progress on a cure; officials said they were developing those metrics.

Dr. Michael Caligiuri, an Ohio State University cancer researcher who has met with Biden, said a $1 billion investment could have a major impact if used for programs selected by rigorous, external peer review — not just by the government.

"We've tried that before in our government agencies," Caligiuri said in an interview. "It doesn't work well."