Obama proposes $1 billion for cancer research

Gregory Korte, USA TODAY |  February 1, 2016 | See Original Here

WASHINGTON — The White House is putting a dollar sign in front of its ambitious effort to cure cancer, announcing $1 billion in funding over the next two years.

The money will go to develop vaccines, improve cancer detection, research immunotherapy treatments, analyze the genetic makeup of tumors, share data and a focus on cancer in children (emphasis mine).

The announcement came as Obama and Vice President Biden were scheduled to launch the first official meeting of the White House Cancer Moonshot Task Force, a State of the Union initiative with a goal to "end cancer as we know it."

Obama first announced the cancer "moonshot" in his State of the Union address last month, saying he would put Biden in charge of the effort. Biden's son, Beau, died of brain cancer last May.

In an e-mail to supporters Monday, Biden said the job of the task force will be to "clear out the bureaucratic hurdles — and let science happen."

The initiative is already underway, the White House said, with $195 million in new cancer activities at the National Institutes of Health planned this year. President Obama will also ask Congress for $755 million in his 2017 budget to be released next week.

That adds up to $950 million over two years. The White House did not immediately explain where the remaining $50 million would come from. Administration officials previewed the plan for reporters Monday, but would not speak on the record.

The president will also propose special fund to be controlled by the vice president, which will focus on "high-risk, high-return research."

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest tried to tamp down expectations of any immediate breakthroughs, saying the effort was unlikely to generate daily headlines.

"That's why I think the 'moonshot' analogy that the president has drawn here is appropriate. It was President Kennedy who laid out this goal, but the goal was not realized in the Kennedy presidency," Earnest said "What he did was he set an ambitious vision and began to orient the federal government in the direction of accomplishing this goal, and the results were realized a number of years later, but sooner than anybody thought. And we're hoping for a similar outcome when it comes to fighting cancer."

In creating the task force, Obama promised that the task force would be transparent and would hold an "open, reciprocal dialogue with the American people," Monday's inaugural meeting, held in the vice president's ceremonial office in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, was closed to the public and the press.