SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, Feb. 26, 2016 (Gephardt Daily) — Vice President Joe Biden on Friday met with doctors, administrators and patients of the Huntsman Cancer Institute, and he answered questions before an audience of Utah governmental leaders and LDS Church officials.
Biden’s topic was Project Moonshot, a governmental initiative to focusing federal, state, educational and private resources and knowledge in an effort to advance the prevention, treatment and cure of cancers.
“For the first time we can see what the ultimate solution is going to look like,” Biden told his listeners. “Whether we get there in 10 years or 50 years depends on how much information we can put together.”
Biden greeted audience members including Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch, Utah Gov. Gary Herbert, Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski, Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams, several state senators, and Elder M. Russel Ballard, a member of the Quorum of the 12 Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The Vice President also thanked representatives from the LDS Church for a volume of genealogy on his family that the officials had given him. Biden talked about the research importance of the church’s genealogical database.
Biden told his listeners he had spoken to 220 doctors and visited multiple universities and hospitals in his effort to find answers and perhaps gain cooperation in the effort to share information and resources aimed at preventing and curing cancer.
Biden talked about all that could be gained if institutions would share their databases and their partial findings or big breakthroughs concerning various cancers.
If all existing pieces of the puzzle could be assembled, Biden said, the big picture on preventing or treating cancers would be revealed much faster.
A barrier to that has been that is that so many health-related institutions gain status and funding by being the ones to solve smaller cancer puzzles. Patenting new cancer medications, for example, can be quite lucrative for researchers and institutions.
The Vice President asked his listeners for ideas on making collaboration easier, and overcoming barriers that also include databases that were not built to work together, and databases that collect differing types of information.
One database might contain generations worth of medical data on specific families, but another might focus on where individual patients had lived, and what chemicals and conditions they might have been exposed to, for example.
A listener questioned how technology with a capacity to contain such an immense database could be funded by any institution other than the federal government.
Biden also broached the topic of cancer patients owning their own highly detailed medical information, and being empowered to share it, voluntarily, with a few large medical databases to be set up for the purpose. Biden said he though many cancer patients would be willing to share their data if it could help save others.
“To be able to within 5 years what otherwise would take us 10 or 15 years to do it ─ I think we can do it,” Biden said. “And that means thousands, thousands of lives saved, and millions of families affected…. Cancer affects ever member of the family.”
To see Friday’s meeting at the Huntsman Cancer Institute in its entirety, click on the video player before. Note: meeting begins at 1:42:00 on YouTube video.