- The Washington Times - Monday, February 1, 2016

Vice President Joseph R. Biden, who lost a son to cancer last year, convened the first meeting of a federal task force Monday to jump-start cancer research in the U.S. with a $1 billion “moonshot” program.

The White House said Monday it will ask Congress for $755 million for the effort in President Obama’s fiscal 2017 budget proposal, combined with $195 million in existing funds, to speed up progress in cancer research in areas ranging from vaccines to early-detection technology.

“We’ll make sure we’re making the most of investments, of our research and data, our supercomputing capabilities, our targeted incentives, private-sector efforts, and patient-engagement initiatives,” Mr. Biden said in a statement. “Our job is to clear out the bureaucratic hurdles — and let science happen.”

A senior administration official said the effort will begin immediately with money in the existing budget of the National Institutes of Health. The president’s new budget will be released on Feb. 9, with the requested funds going to the NIH and the Food and Drug Administration.

Representatives from the Defense Department, NIH, Department of Health and Human Services, the FDA, Commerce Department and other federal agencies will take part in the task force.

Mr. Biden’s son Beau lost a battle with brain cancer last spring.

“The kind of work the vice president is focused on is not likely, in the short term, to yield sexy announcements,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters Monday. “But it is necessary to lay the groundwork for a cure.”

The White House said more than 1.6 million new cases of cancer will be diagnosed, and that cancer will kill an estimated 600,000 Americans this year alone.

Under the plan, the Defense Department and the Department of Veterans Affairs will increase their spending on cancer research, including through funding of “centers of excellence” focused on specific cancers, and conducting broad studies to help determine risk factors and enhance treatment, the White House said.

• Dave Boyer can be reached at dboyer@washingtontimes.com.

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