Joe Biden has left the White House for Boston to push his goal to cut cancer deaths in half over the next 25 years.
The President touted his address as the ‘Cancer Moonshot’, and linked it to the 60th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s famous speech about space travel.
He issued an executive order boosting the US biotech sector as part of the initiative, which invokes the national effort to land a man on the Moon.
The Democrat was in Boston for an address deliberately set to echo John F. Kennedy’s famous 1962 ‘Moonshot speech’ in which he called for landing an American on the lunar surface — something achieved in 1969.
This time, Biden is pushing for government-backed efforts to coordinate and fund a multilayered fight against cancer, with the goal of halving cancer death rates in the next 25 years.
President Joe Biden heads to Boston to push his goal to cut cancer deaths in half over the next 25 years, touting his ‘Cancer Moonshot’
As he set off from Washington, Biden issued an order meant to bolster the trailblazing US biotech sector’s efforts to take on growing commercial rivals in China.
The order brings federal support for ‘areas that will define US biotechnology leadership and our economic competitiveness in the coming decades,’ a senior Biden administration official told reporters.
The official said that while US biotech research leads the world, the industrial applications are increasingly in the hands of other countries.
‘Unless we translate biotechnology innovation into economic and societal benefits for all Americans, other countries, including and especially China, are aggressively investing in this sector,’ posing a ‘risk,’ the official said.
The White House says the US biotech industry is on the cutting edge of medical advances – recently seen in the rapid development of vaccines, tests and therapeutics to help manage the Covid-19 pandemic — but that the potential scope goes much further.
President Biden will speak at Kennedy Library on 60th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s famous speech about space travel
The official speaking to reporters cited studies suggesting that ‘before the end of the decade, engineering biology holds the potential to be used in manufacturing industry that accounts for more than one third of global output. That’s equivalent to almost $30 trillion in terms of value.’
Growing areas for biotech industry include new plastics and rubbers, jet fuel, and environmentally friendly fertilizers.
The battle against cancer is personal for Biden: his son Beau died of brain cancer in 2015 when Biden was vice president to Barack Obama.
In his speech at the John F. Kennedy Library and Museum in Boston, Biden will lay out how his administration is seeking to slash cancer rates through a systemic revamp of government funding and support for everything from medical research to improving access to healthcare and better environmental conditions.
The linkage to the Moon program will seek to raise public awareness and support ahead of midterm congressional elections where the Democrats face the possibility of a Republican sweep in Congress, something which would severely complicate the next two years of Biden’s first term.
Caroline Kennedy, the US ambassador to Australia and daughter of the assassinated JFK, told CNN she approved of the parallels drawn by Biden in the struggle to conquer the deadly disease.
‘Sixty years after my father challenged Americans to land on the moon, President Biden is welcoming great challenges as new opportunities by setting us on a bold course to end cancer as we know it,’ she said.
Biden’s focus on the cancer fight comes as NASA is once again looking to return to the Moon.
Biden will name Dr. Renee Wegrzyn as the first director of the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health
Biden also will name Dr. Renee Wegrzyn, a longtime science adviser and who most recently served at the biotech company Ginkgo Bioworks Holdings Inc, as the first director of the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health, a U.S. government-run biomedical research group.
At Ginkgo, Wegrzyn worked on applying synthetic biology to outpace infectious diseases – including COVID-19 – through biomanufacturing, vaccine innovation, and biosurveillance of pathogens at scale.
She also worked at the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity.
Biden’s speech will be on the 60th anniversary of President Kennedy’s Moonshot speech at Rice University.
In that now famous speech, Kennedy said: ‘We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.’
In his ‘Moonshot’ speech on Sept. 12, 1962, President John F. Kennedy characterized space as a new frontier.
He gave his remarks as the Soviet Union was beating America in the space race, with cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin having circled the earth and landed safely.
Kennedy used the speech to outline his goal of landing a man on the moon before 1970. But he also used his remarks to invoke the pioneer spirit of America, along with a sense of urgency and destiny.
He travelled to Houston, Texas, the site of NASA’s Mission Control, to be briefed on the possibility of his goal. He then spoke to about 40,000 people, at Rice University’s Rice Stadium.
President John F. Kennedy, giving his Moonshot speech at Rice University
The middle portion of the speech is best remembered and quoted:
We set sail on this new sea because there is new knowledge to be gained, and new rights to be won, and they must be won and used for the progress of all people. For space science, like nuclear science and all technology, has no conscience of its own. Whether it will become a force for good or ill depends on man, and only if the United States occupies a position of pre-eminence can we help decide whether this new ocean will be a sea of peace or a new terrifying theater of war. I do not say that we should or will go unprotected against the hostile misuse of space any more than we go unprotected against the hostile use of land or sea, but I do say that space can be explored and mastered without feeding the fires of war, without repeating the mistakes that man has made in extending his writ around this globe of ours.
There is no strife, no prejudice, no national conflict in outer space as yet. Its hazards are hostile to us all. Its conquest deserves the best of all mankind, and its opportunity for peaceful cooperation may never come again. But why, some say, the Moon? Why choose this as our goal? And they may well ask, why climb the highest mountain? Why, 35 years ago, fly the Atlantic? Why does Rice play Texas?
We choose to go to the Moon. We choose to go to the Moon… We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard; because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one we intend to win, and the others, too.
Kennedy was praised for using the speech to highlight what is best in America and to give a vibrant, optimistic view of the future.
John Kennedy’s goal of having a man walk on the moon was realized – posthumously – in July 1969, with the successful Apollo 11 mission; above astronaut Edwin Aldrin walks on the moon’s surface
Kennedy’s goal of having a man walk on the moon was realized – posthumously – in July 1969, with the Apollo program’s successful Apollo 11 mission.
Published by Associated Newspapers Ltd
Part of the Daily Mail, The Mail on Sunday & Metro Media Group