Joe and Jill Biden launch new cancer initiative

Former Vice President Joe Biden, left, Jill Biden and David Agus, M.D., discuss the launch of the Biden Cancer Initiative. (Biden Cancer Initiative)

Former Vice President Joe Biden is staying at the forefront of cancer care innovation, as he and his wife, Jill, launched the Biden Cancer Initiative on Monday.

The initiative will work in tandem with the Cancer Moonshot program, which launched during the Obama administration, but will operate independently of the federal government. The goal is to push for faster progress in new treatments, prevention and detection of cancer, building on the Cancer Moonshot’s momentum.

Biden said in a livestream to mark the project’s launch that his role is to help bring collaborators to the table and push for more conversation between stakeholders, which he said includes doctors, drugmakers, technology companies and patient advocacy groups.

“The only thing I know how to do to is I know how to organize a little bit,” Biden said, “and bring people together, that’s what I tried to make my whole career about.”

David Agus, M.D., professor of medicine and engineering at the University of Southern California and one of 13 members of the initiative’s board of directors, said that a key element will be offering ways that cancer patients and other Americans can get involved.

“This is not just a movement of doctors or of ex-politicians, this is a movement of people,” Agus said.

Jill Biden said the new program will benefit because cancer is a personal issue for both of them. The Bidens lost their son, Beau, to brain cancer two years ago, but Joe Biden said that, despite his grim diagnosis, the rapid face of innovation in cancer treatment kept hope alive.

RELATED: Biden calls on tech industry to jump-start Cancer Moonshot

Biden has continued to be an active face in the cancer debate since leaving office. He spoke at South by Southwest earlier this year, where he called on the technology industry to innovate new tools for cancer treatment and research.

He has also, through the Cancer Moonshot program, outlined goals to improve data sharing between providers and apply new payment models to reduce drug costs. However, the future of the Cancer Moonshot under the Trump administration is unclear. Deep budget cuts proposed by President Donald Trump could threaten key funding to precision medicine programs like Biden’s.