SAN FRANCISCO - First Lady Jill Biden is in the Bay Area to spend a day in San Francisco meeting with researchers at UCSF’s cancer center, followed by a women’s luncheon hosted annually by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
The plane carrying the First Lady touched down at SFO just before 5 p.m. Thursday. When she emerged from the plane, she received a warm welcome from Speaker Pelosi and Congresswoman Jackie Speier of San Mateo, who will accompany the First Lady to UCSF’s cancer research and treatment centers.
Speier says the Biden administration’s Cancer Moonshot effort is personal. Their son Beau Biden died of cancer, and they have friends who have also been impacted.
"Dr. Biden had four girlfriends that were diagnosed with breast cancer in one year," said Rep. Speier, "This moonshot is really important for all of us because every one of us has someone in our family who’s struggling with cancer or died from cancer. And the goal is to actually reduce the amount of cancer by 50% in 25 years."
Congresswoman Speier also says more laws are needed to help support cancer patients. Last July, she introduced a bill H.R.8546, the Clinical Trial Coverage Act, which would require insurance companies to cover out-of-network clinical treatment trials.
"On a federal level, it is allowed if you are in-network, but most clinical trials are not going to be in your network," said Rep. Speier, who adds that the bill could help researchers get a broader set of trial participants and data, "We want diversity, which we don’t necessarily get because people can’t afford the costs."
Dr. Biden is scheduled to meet with top cancer researchers at UCSF’s Hellen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center at 10:15 a.m. Friday.
Dr. Alan Ashworth, is President of UCSF’s cancer center and a world-renowned researcher. He will be part of the UCSF delegation hosting the First Lady.
"I don't think we've ever been more excited about progress in cancer," said Dr. Ashworth, "We're seeing the increased link between the genetics of the person, the genetics of the tumor, and that is informing what exact therapy a patient should receive...previously a one-size-fits-all approach, now a very tailored, precision approach to cancer medicine."
Dr. Ashworth says that technology and new immune therapies to attack cancer cells are providing hope that didn’t exist when the Bidens visited UCSF in 2016 during the nation’s previous cancer moonshot effort.
Following Friday’s hospital tour, the First Lady is scheduled to speak at a Democratic Women’s Lunch and Issues Conference in San Francisco hosted annually by Speaker Pelosi.
Dr. Jill Biden is herself an unusual leader, performing the duties of First Lady while at the same time, changing the role by continuing to work in her own career as an educator.
The meeting is a gathering of women leaders, as well as potential political candidates.
"The ultimate power lunch as it’s referred to is a signature event the Speaker of the House has every year," said Speier, "We’re about 27% of those elected to Congress. Okay, but not good enough, so we still have a ways to go."
After her events in San Francisco, the First Lady is scheduled to fly to Tacoma, Washington late Friday afternoon. She has a meeting at Bates Technical College in Tacoma to discuss job training programs.
Jana Katsuyama is a reporter for KTVU. Email Jana at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter @JanaKTVU or Facebook @NewsJana or ktvu.com.