Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Obama's "Moonshot" to Cure Cancer: Apollo 11, or Apollo 13?

           During his final State of the Union address in January 2016, President Obama announced a plan to invest $1 billion toward a “moonshot” attempt at curing cancer. While the details of the plan are rather broad and ambiguous, it essentially provides increased funding for existing research efforts with an emphasis on data sharing and collaboration. While the biomedical research community will gladly welcome any funding increase amidst an ever-decreasing public investment in research relative to inflation, not all scientists are rushing to praise this initiative.

          The moonshot initiative includes a substantial funding increase for cancer research at both the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) along with additional support for efforts at the Department of Defense and Veterans Affairs. Research areas of interest highlighted by the initiative are: vaccine development, earlier  cancer screening/detection, immunotherapy, pediatric cancers, and genomics. As previously mentioned, another big focus is to consolidate various efforts not only among government agencies but also between distinct cancer researchers and labs. An overall summary of the plan’s goals can be found here.