Biden details ‘moonshot’ plan to end cancer on 60th anniversary of JFK speech

US President Joe Biden boards Air Force One at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland as he departs Washington, D.C. to Boston, Massachusetts to give his "Cancer Moonshot" address on Monday, September 12, 2022. Photo by Yuri Gripas/UPI

Sept. 12 (UPI) — President Joe Biden called to “end cancer as we know it and cure cancers once and for all” Monday on the 60th anniversary of one of former President John F. Kennedy’s most famous speeches.

Biden went to the John F. Kennedy Library in Massachusetts to address his “Cancer Moonshot” initiative, six decades after gave his speech at Rice University proclaiming the United States would put astronauts on the moon by the end of the 1960s.

“On this day in 1962, America was facing an inflection point,” Biden told the packed library. “It was one of those times that changes everything from the day before to the day after. A shadow of world wars cast over a cold war and a march on civil rights, urgent yet uncertain.”

Biden defined America as full of “possibilities.” He said when Kennedy “set that goal, he established a national purpose that could rally the American people around a common cause and he succeeded. Now is our time.”

The president said his “Cancer Moonshot” initiative is “one of the reasons why I ran for president.”

Biden first laid the seeds of the Cancer Moonshot initiative, which aims to cut cancer deaths in the United States in half over the next quarter-century, in 2016 when he was vice president under Barack Obama, and not long after his son, Beau, died of brain cancer. It’s a loss that still deeply affects Biden.

“We’re calling it a ‘Moonshot,’ and that’s because I believe that this effort, like President [John] Kennedy’s call to land on the moon … is truly a call to humankind — to be bold and do big things,” Biden previously said of the project.

Biden arrived in Boston just before noon, the White House said. He first made remarks at the airport and then visited the John F. Kennedy Library and Museum shortly after 4 p.m. EDT to address his “Cancer Moonshot” initiative to “end cancer as we know it.”

He was introduced by John F. Kennedy’s daughter, Caroline Kennedy, who called her father’s Moonshot Speech his “best, known legacy.”

The first men on the moon landed in July 1969, meeting Kennedy’s deadline with five months to spare.

“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,” Kennedy said in his iconic address.

“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.”

Biden’s plan establishes the White House Cancer Cabinet, an initiative involving multiple departments across the federal government, and calls for improved and earlier cancer screenings and detection, as well as prevention and at-home screenings.

“It is a vision that will change people’s lives for the better, improve their health and decrease the burden of the disease,” the White House said in a statement on Monday.

“When we come together as a nation around ideas that unite us — like fighting cancer — we can show the world that anything is possible. The president has long believed that America can be defined with one word: possibilities. And the American people demonstrate every day what is possible.”

Biden was to attend a Democratic Party reception in Boston before returning to the White House.

Also on Monday, Biden signed an executive order to launch a national biotechnology and biomanufacturing initiative.

The White House said the initiative will drive federal investments to spur new biotechnology leadership and economic competitiveness in the fields.

“This initiative will make the United States more prosperous and our planet more secure,” the White House said in a statement.

The White House will host a summit Wednesday for Biden’s bioeconomy and biomanufacturing plan.


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