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WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama issued an order creating Vice President Joe Biden’s federal cancer task force Thursday, and Biden says he’ll hold the first meeting on Monday to get major federal agencies working together on faster cancer research.

Obama’s order establishes a task force that will include officials from federal departments and agencies across the government, and calls for the group to issue a report by Dec. 31 that outlines its recommendations. The order says the role of the task force will be “advisory only.”


The task force will be run out of Biden’s office, with funding and administrative support to come from the National Institutes of Health.

In addition to NIH, the task force will include officials from the Departments of Health and Human Services, Defense, Commerce, Energy, and Veterans Affairs, as well as the National Cancer Institute, the Food and Drug Administration, and the National Science Foundation.

It will also have representatives from other White House offices, including the Office of Science and Technology Policy, the Office of Management and Budget, the National Economic Council, and the Domestic Policy Council.


In a post on Medium Thursday, Biden wrote that the first meeting of the task force will be dedicated to “a simple mission — making sure we’re all working from the same playbook.”

He also wrote that the task force will “lay the groundwork for the next administration” — an acknowledgment that there’s only so much progress the task force can make in Obama and Biden’s final year in office.

“As I’ve said from the start, I don’t claim to be a cancer expert. But I do have something to offer when it comes to being a catalyst and bringing folks together,” Biden wrote.

Biden said the task force is meant to “ensure that we make the most of our federal investments, research and data, computing capabilities, targeted incentives, private-sector efforts, and patient-engagement initiatives.”

The vice president said the task force will work on three key areas: building on the recent breakthroughs in immunotherapy and other treatments, sharing data more widely from recent research at cancer centers, and expanding access to clinical trials. All are themes he has discussed at length in recent forums.

Obama’s order also says the task force should recommend ways to get rid of any “unnecessary regulatory barriers,” suggest opportunities for public-private partnerships, and outline better coordination between the federal government and private research.

“We’re not trying to make incremental change here. We’re trying to get to a quantum leap on the path to a cure,” Biden wrote. “That’s the goal of this moonshot. To make a decade worth of advances in five years  —  and, eventually, end cancer as we know it.”

This story has been updated with more details on the task force.

Presidents have been promising to cure cancer for 45 years, but cancer is still very much with us. Alex Hogan/STAT