VP Biden visits San Francisco, discusses cancer initiative

Vice-President Joe Biden arrived in San Francisco Monday afternoon to address a crowd at a health conference, after weather delays and a bird strike that impacted Air Force Two in Southern California.

Mr. Biden has been giving speeches for decades, but this was personal.

"I believe we are on the precipice of fundamental change in our approach to fighting the dreaded disease of cancer," Mr. Biden said.

Mr. Biden's own son Beau died in 2015 of brain cancer at age 46. Mr. Biden told the crowd at the JP Morgan health conference how that has impacted him and inspired his cancer moonshot drive to find a cure.

"Even if we couldn't save our son. Science, medicine, and technology are progressing faster than ever to save countless of other sons and daughters. But there's a need for a greater sense of urgency," Mr. Biden said.

He explained some of the government initiative's successes such as partnering with Silicon Valley tech workers.

"Within 3 weeks they set up a website Trials.cancer.gov. You can type in real words like breast cancer, leukemia, your zip code, age, and then you can find a list of every clinical trial ," said Mr. Biden.

"Only 4% of the people who are diagnosed with cancer in the last 20 years are ever able to become part of  a clinical trial," he added, noting that the data base also could help researchers find more participants.

Mr. Biden also cited new private and government partnerships, such as a new national cancer genome database.

"Anyone in the world can access it. Any researcher in the world. Breaking down the silos" he said.

He announced the launch of a new system giving cancer researchers licensing to test combinations of drugs from different companies and fostering more collaboration and data-sharing.

He also said expanding access to prevention, screening and care is critical and was expanded with the Affordable Care Act.

"Folks, without debating the Affordable Care Act, I hope our colleagues in the new administration are able to save what they say are the most beneficial parts of the Act,"

Curing cancer he said is a bipartisan issue.

"What he said just spoke to all of our hearts and 5 you could feel his own pain, but it's true everyone here knows, either they've had cancer or knows someone who's had cancer," said Jennifer Jacobs of Palo Alto, who was attending the conference.

"I thought it was really moving, it's good to see on top of all the industry experts at this conference that the government is behind the effort and I think it's something that affects all of us," said David Schwartz of New York.

"I'm not so sure it's going to be so quick, but I see the energy and I'm a great believer in taking down the walls and the silos and I think he's thinking in the right way," said Liana Logiurato, who was an attendee from Basel, Switzerland.

Mr. Biden left for Detroit, but before he did announce his plans after he leaves office. He says he will be partnering with others to form a group, that will likely be titled the Biden Cancer Initiative.

He hopes to continue working to bring people together to find a cure.