DURHAM, N.C.—No one doubts the sincerity of Vice President Joe Biden’s “cancer moonshot” initiative. That’s the cause that Biden announced he’d pursue in October, when he decided not to run for president, and it’s one inspired by the life and death of his son Beau Biden, who died of brain cancer last year.
But is the plan even really a “moonshot”? After all, the Obama administration has asked for just $1 billion in funding for the initiative in this year’s budget—a budget that is already more aspirational than realistic—and top researchers have questioned the impact that amount can really have. (For reference, $1 billion is between a third and a fifth the cost of a new pharmaceutical.) In a visit to Duke University on Wednesday, Biden’s first since the budget’s release, he offered a glimpse of what he hopes to do. The vice president isn’t proposing a massive new government effort to fund or conduct research—like a second Apollo program—but rather, promising to cut through red tape and bring together various players to enable greater cooperation.
“The science is ready,” Biden proclaimed, a phrase he repeated a half-dozen times over the course of 80 minutes. “I believe we can make much faster progress—as an outsider looking in—if we seek greater collaboration, greater sharing of information. In short, breaking down some of the research that is trapped inside of silos, and share information with drug companies, and drug companies being willing to be more forthcoming in sharing information.”