White House unveils CancerX innovation accelerator, new funding for cancer screenings on Moonshot anniversary

On the anniversary of the revived Cancer Moonshot, the Biden administration unveiled partnerships directed at cancer care and prevention such as providing clinical and patient navigation support to families facing childhood cancer and boosting access to screenings and early detection.

The 13 initiatives announced Thursday are part of the White House's overarching effort to reduce cancer death rates and improve the experience for families surviving cancer.

First launched in 2016, the Cancer Moonshot aims to reduce the cancer death rate by at least half over the next 25 years. President Joe Biden revived the national campaign a year ago.

"The Cancer Moonshot has spurred tremendous action across the federal government and from the public and private sectors, building a strong foundation for the work ahead. Today, the Administration is announcing new actions from inside and outside of government that will drive additional progress, drawing us closer to ending cancer as we know it today," the White House said in a statement.

Cancer is the second-leading cause of death in the U.S., with approximately 600,000 deaths annually. Appropriate screening and timely follow-up care help detect and prevent cancer. Yet, significant disparities continue to exist in cancer screening and follow-up care, including disparities based on an individual’s income, insurance status, and race or ethnicity.

Last year, Biden stood up the first-ever Cancer Cabinet to mobilize the federal government. The White House also called on the healthcare industry and the private sector to step up efforts around closing the screening gap, understanding and addressing environmental exposure and decreasing the impact of preventable cancers. The revamped Moonshot also called for efforts to bring cutting-edge research through the pipeline to patients and communities and support patients and caregivers.

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) is launching a public-private partnership to provide patient navigation support to families seeking information and optimal care while also connecting them with research trials. Families battling cancer also will have access to portable, shareable, standardized cancer health records through these partnerships.

The program, called Childhood Cancer – Data Integration for Research, Education, Care, and Clinical Trials, represents a collaboration between the NCI, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC), the Alliance for Clinical Trials in Oncology, the American Society of Clinical Oncology, the American Cancer Society, the MITRE Corporation, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, the Children’s Oncology Group and the American Association for Cancer Research.

The White House also announced $10 million in new funding to improve access to cancer screenings and early detection including patient navigation support services.

The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), part of the Department of Health and Human Services, is doubling its investment in new partnerships to bring community health centers together with NCI-designated Cancer Centers to facilitate access to screenings and early detection services for underserved communities.

The funding awards total more than $10 million for 22 HRSA-funded health centers, expanding on the $5 million awarded to 11 health centers in 2022, the White House said in a statement. The program focuses on leveraging outreach specialists and patient navigators to conduct patient outreach in underserved communities.

“Early identification and early treatment are essential to meeting the President’s goal of slashing the cancer death rate. Yet, many families living in underserved communities face challenges in getting life-saving cancer screenings and treatment. We have to remove these obstacles and make it easier not only to get screened but to get connected to care,” said HRSA Administrator Carole Johnson in a statement. “That’s why HRSA is proud to double our investment in partnerships between our community health centers and National Cancer Institute-Designated Cancer Centers to expand lifesaving screenings and early detection services and make early intervention easier for those who live in underserved communities. Today’s investment is a critical down-payment on reaching the Cancer Moonshot’s goals.”

A new national innovation accelerator called CancerX will support biotech and health tech startups working on solutions such as digital patient care coordination, software for community outreach or new platforms to support patients with their post-treatment care.

The accelerator, part of a public-private partnership that includes HHS, ONC and the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health, is intended to accelerate the development of digital tools focused on the continuum of cancer care including prevention, detection, treatment and transitions in care, White House officials said.

"This work will help startups scale their business and work toward creating ‘challenge-focused’ solutions for cancer with health equity in mind. This initiative will build on previous models deployed by successful HHS InnovationX program accelerators such as KidneyX and PandemicX," the White House said in the statement.

Other initiatives include:

  • The National Minority Quality Forum is launching local community-based activities to increase cancer screenings in at-risk communities. The organization plans to roll out a new online hub, which includes several interactive features designed to increase awareness about cancer disparities, innovation in early detection and treatment, and patient- and clinician-oriented resources to close gaps in cancer care delivery. 
  • The Colorectal Cancer Alliance has developed a comprehensive support hub for patients, survivors and caregivers to navigate colorectal cancer. BlueHQ is a free support service designed to help patients learn, connect and take action to improve outcomes. 
  • A broad national advocacy campaign will work to address the obstacles rural patient communities face accessing care. The coalition includes Stupid Cancer, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, the Prevent Cancer Foundation, Cervivor, the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship, Cancer and Careers, Triage Cancer, the Tigerlily Foundation and the Fight Colorectal Cancer Patient Advocate Foundation. Underpinning these efforts will be a storytelling campaign led by OffScrip Health, a digital health media platform, and marketing firm FINN Partners to tackle critical issues impacting rural communities’ health such as access to care, broadband infrastructure, consumer goods, clean water and telehealth.
  • Susan G. Komen doled out $21.7 million to fund 48 new research projects at 26 academic medical institutions in the U.S. that are focused on improving patient outcomes—particularly for people with the most aggressive breast cancers or who have experienced a recurrence or metastasis. With this investment, Komen is now supporting more than 152 active research projects, representing more than $115 million in funding.