Vice President Biden announces new measures to help cancer patients during a speech at Rice

Speaking to a packed house at Rice University’s Tudor Fieldhouse, Vice President Joe Biden on Friday discussed new measures to help cancer patients navigate the clinical trials process as part of the administration’s Cancer Moonshot initiative to speed new treatments to market. Biden, who was introduced by his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, said clinical trials are essential for developing new and more effective cancer diagnostics and treatments.

James A. Baker III, honorary chair, introduced Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, discussed the White House Cancer Moonshot initiative to accelerate cancer research at Rice's Tudor Fieldhouse Sept. 16. (Photo by Jeff Fitlow)

James A. Baker III, honorary chair of Rice’s Baker Institute for Public Policy, introduced Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, Dr. Jill Biden. The vice president discussed the White House Cancer Moonshot initiative to accelerate cancer research at Rice’s Tudor Fieldhouse Sept. 16. (Photo by Jeff Fitlow)

“Every day thousands of Americans hear that dreaded word, that C-word,” Biden said, speaking a few blocks away from the hospital where his late son, Beau, was first diagnosed with brain cancer. “What happens next is a difference between life and death. If there’s treatment there, then you know there’s hope, but for some people, hope is a clinical trial.”

Biden’s speech came on the heels of an announcement Friday by the National Institutes of Health that it is seeking to make ClinicalTrials.gov, where clinical trials are posted, more user-friendly and that it is publishing a final rule specifying reporting requirements for clinical trials, according to statement from the agency. In the future, investigators will be required to publish summaries of trial results whether or not they resulted in an approved product.

Biden’s presentation on campus was co-sponsored by Rice’s Baker Institute for Public Policy and the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center as part of the Medicine, Research and Society Lecture Series. James A. Baker III, former secretary of state and honorary chair of the Baker Institute, welcomed Rice students, faculty, staff and guests of the Baker Institute, MD Anderson and Baylor College of Medicine to Biden’s lecture.

Biden’s speech at Rice occurred a few days after the 54th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s historic “Moon Speech” at Rice.

“Our venue here, just a stone’s throw away from the Texas Medical Center, could not be more apt,” Baker said. “It was here President Kennedy inspired a nation with his call to go to the moon.”

Biden also made several references to Kennedy’s famous address in 1962 at Rice Stadium.

“President Kennedy’s words are still ringing in my ear: ‘We are unwilling to postpone … for a minute, a day, a week, a month,’” Biden said. He noted that every great doctor has been asked by a patient, “Doc, can you give me just one more week so I can see my daughter down the aisle?” “‘Doc, my first grandbaby’s coming. I need three months, doc. Just give me three months.”

Biden added, “This is about today. This is not about tomorrow.”

Rice President David Leebron, MD Anderson President Dr. Ronald DePinho and Baker Institute Director Ambassador Edward Djerejian met with the vice president and Dr. Biden before the event.

President Barack Obama announced the White House Cancer Moonshot initiative to accelerate cancer research during his 2016 State of the Union address and tasked Biden to lead the quest. The proposed $1 billion-a-year effort aims to speed the pace of research to find a cure against the nation’s No. 1 killer of people under 85. For more information, go to www.cancer.gov/research/key-initiatives/moonshot-cancer-initiative.

To view a Rice News video with highlights from the event, go to http://youtu.be/ChX8mrZZz2g.

About Jeff Falk

Jeff Falk is associate director of national media relations in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.