In the State of the Union address, President Obama announced he’s putting Vice President Joe Biden in charge of an initiative to cure cancer. Biden is coming to Philadelphia this week to kick off the program.
Biden lost his son Beau to brain cancer last year. In his grief, he predicted the nation could cure cancer if it had the will power and put enough resources into research.
After the president’s address, U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-Philadelphia) announced Biden will visit the University of Pennsylvania on Friday for a program kick off.
Fattah is optimistic the initiative can work.
“We are really at the cutting edge of being able to end cancer in our lifetime eliminate cancer, maybe sooner, depending how much we invest,” he said.
While no one could oppose curing cancer, since 2010, federally-funded medical and cancer research has been stifled by a combination of cuts and flat funding. However, the most recent budget deal passed by Republicans in Congress does include a funding boost.
Medical research of this sort has been less controversial in Congress than work on climate change. Republican leaders have been pressuring the National Science Foundation to focus more on “core science” and pare back geological and social science research.
Fattah, who has been a loud voice pushing for additional research dollars, could use a boost from the vice president’s visit. He’s under indictment on federal corruption charges and as a consequence, is facing a stiff challenge for the Democratic nomination this spring. It’s a big departure from Fattah’s past campaigns. He’s seeking his 12th term in Congress, but usually has cruised to easy victory, often winning 80 percent or more of the vote.