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Federal government / Health tech

Could Joe Biden become a champion for Philly’s health IT scene?

The vice president was caught on tape spilling his post-White Office plans and they involve Philadelphia.

President Joe Biden with his wife, Jill Biden. (Photo by Flickr user Medill DC, used under a Creative Commons license)

“I’m going to be based out of Penn for foreign policy,” said Vice President Joe Biden while in the vicinity of a hot mic last night, adding kindle to the fire of rumors that had been going around about VPOTUS setting up shop in University City after leaving the White House on Jan. 20.

We immediately reached out to representatives from the University of Pennsylvania, who declined to comment (as they did to every other news outlet, including Philly.com). The office of the VP could not be reached.

Seeing as though it’s the only information we have to go on, the full quote — blurted out by Biden during the U.S. Senate swearing in ceremony in Washington — warrants some careful listening.

Here’s this reporter’s transcript of the video where Biden spills the beans, which was uploaded to C-SPAN’s video platform by Quartz reporter David Yanofsky:

BIDEN: I’m signing up for this [inaudible] called the Biden Trust to continue the cancer work. And it’s not so much about raising money and philanthropy, even though there’s some of that but it’s more about keeping these guys cooperating and changing the culture. 

WOMAN: Now are you going to be based out of Penn?

BIDEN: I’m going to be based out of Penn for foreign policy, but I’m deliberately not associated with any one [inaudible].

Now, here’s some open speculation on Biden’s supposed Philly presence post-Jan. 20:

  • Professor Biden: Though Biden’s academic background is not particularly shiny, drawing in a former VP to teach a class or two of American Foreign Policy could be a big deal for Penn’s polisci department. Would Biden be particularly interested in something like this? The Delawarean’s penchant for hands-on politicking might suggest otherwise.
  • Research, maybe?: Perhaps by “foreign policy,” the 75-year-old politician meant doing some old-school academic research out of the International Relations Program. Doesn’t really sound like his cup of tea.
  • What he’ll actually (likely) be doing: Biden’s involvement in the fight against cancer is the true story here. His bolstering of the Cancer Moonshot initiative (which we heard a bit about last June), personal backstory aside, is what will keep Biden busy in the years to come. That last line about not being associated with any one [inaudible, but we assume he said “institutions”] makes it unlikely Biden is leaving Washington for good, but it also means we could see him hitting Philly’s health sciences corridor more frequently.
  • Philly health IT could get a big-time champion: More than a few life sciences startups would jump at the chance to speak to Biden about how they could contribute to the cause. Could Biden help local companies have access to trial programs and investment from outside the city?
  • Politicians will be politicians: As long as we’re speculating, Biden’s push on the fight against cancer also makes for a nifty platform were he actually considering a 2020 presidential bid. Yes, he would be 77 at the time, an unprecedented age for an elected president, but I mean, look at the guy.

As the date nears for President-elect Trump’s inauguration, we hope both Penn and Mr. Biden have a moment to sync up and give us an actual on-the-record statement about what’s actually going to play out over the coming months. Everything else is just conjecture.

Companies: University of Pennsylvania

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