Former Vice President Joe Biden speaks at AAAS about cancer research

Eilish O'Sullivan

When Former Vice President Joe Biden asked an audience of hundreds whose live had been affected by cancer, nearly every person raised their hand. 

Biden spoke about the importance of collaboration within cancer research Sunday night at the 2018 Annual Meeting of The Amderican Association for the Advancement of Science.

 “Our speaker this evening knows (cancer) first-hand,” AAAS President Susan Hockfield said while introducing Biden. 

Biden lost his son to brain cancer two years ago, prompting him to take action. He was later appointed to head Cancer Moonshot, an initiative to further progress cancer research and prevention.

 Biden said he looks forward to the day where treatment is personalized and helpful, not harmful.

 “I see the day when it doesn’t come down to having to make the choice of keeping (cancer patients’) homes and affording lifesaving treatment,” Biden said. “I see the day that you will take your children to school physicals where we vaccinate them against certain cancer strains.”

Zach Avgur, an attendee, said it was inspiring to see Biden putting cancer research on people’s minds. 

 “(The speech) was extremely powerful and thought-provoking,” said Zach Avgur. “It’s amazing the amount of time and energy (Biden’s) putting into this, especially considering he’s not in public office anymore.”

 The federal government has a fundamental role in cancer research and that society needs to challenge the government to take responsibility in funding research, Biden said.

 “It’s unacceptable that our current president of a year has no science advisors,” Biden said. “We need to advance science and keep America at the forefront of that movement.”

Biden said Cancer Moonshot became a well-known movement due to bipartisan support. 

“There is an overwhelming consensus over cancer,” Biden said.

 Biden said the new administration wanted to cut the initiative, but because of its neutrality and popularity on both sides of the aisle, the program was not cut. Instead, Biden said $2 billion in funding was added to Cancer Moonshot and he hopes for an increase in funding in the future.

 Even with this support and general acceptance of the program from the American public, Biden said the new administration is not as committed to scientific and cancer research.

 “If we don’t push hard now, it can all slide back into business as usual,” Biden said. “We are going to need your help to challenge the system.”

 Biden said America’s possibilities are what make it great.

 “Great nations are made, they’re not born,” Biden said. “If we work together, there is nothing we can’t solve.”