Biden stumps for open data in the fight against cancer

Former VP Joe Biden came to town Wednesday, to share what he's learned while launching the Biden Cancer Initiative.

This guy.

(AP Photo/The Des Moines Register/Bryon Houlgrave via Tumblr)

Delaware’s prodigal son, former Vice President Joe Biden, came to Philly on Thursday to talk cancer innovation, funding for research and his hatred for data silos.

The former veep, who took a position with the University of Pennsylvania in February, headlined an event called Axios Future Shapers: A New Era in Cancer Innovation at the National Constitution Center. He was joined by Dr. Jill Biden, an educator and founder of the Biden Breast Health Initiative.

The talk was moderated by Axios cofounder (and former Politico editor) Mike Allen. He led by asking Biden how to prod the research community to speed up advances in the fight against cancer.

“You prod it by bringing people together so they can share knowledge and data,” said Biden, who launched the push for cancer research after his son Beau Biden lost the battle against glioblastoma, an aggressive and fast-growing type of brain cancer. 

“I learned that we were operating in the old fashioned way,” Biden said of the early stages of the “cancer moonshot”. “We set out to break the data silos, it’s the biggest thing we can do to move this effort along.”

“Information has been somewhat hoarded,” said Biden. “The more data we can accumulate and have researchers access it, the quicker we’re going to get a solution.The more data we can get the more, the closer we’ll be to a solution”


How to keep groundbreaking research funded? Bipartisan agreements, former VP Biden said.

“I promise you, it’s going to happen if I have to go back down there in the chambers,” Biden said of the $6.3 billion cancer research bill that was approved late last year with support on both sides of the aisle.

“There’s enormous change in the horizon,” said Biden.

Last year we also got some insight into data’s starring role in the fight against cancer from NYC-based StartUp Health, which has Philly ties by way of its Chief Medical Officer Howard Krein and investor Wayne Kimmel, who’s a board member. 

“What VP Biden and Dr. Biden are doing for the future of cancer care is amazing,” said Kimmel, who was in attendance. “They are dedicated to accomplish the ‘end cancer’ mission, one of our StartUp Health moonshot missions.”

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