Vice President Joe Biden will name Greg Simon, a former pharmaceutical executive and aide to Vice President Al Gore, as executive director of the Obama administration’s cancer task force, according to Biden’s office.
Simon is a longtime research advocate and helped start FasterCures, an offshoot of the Milken Institute that has pushed for speedier medical discoveries and treatment. He also worked at Pfizer as senior vice president from 2009 to 2012 and most recently led an investment firm, Poliwogg, focused on life sciences.
As an aide to the vice president from 1993 to 1997, Simon worked on programs at the National Institutes of Health, the National Cancer Institute, the Human Genome Project, and the Food and Drug Administration, according to Bloomberg.
The New York Times first reported the news of Simon’s appointment. The Times said he was diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukemia in June 2014 and completed an initial round chemotherapy treatment six months ago. Simon is now healthy, the Times reported.
Biden has previously named Don Graves, a cancer survivor, as his top staffer on the research initiative.
In 2008, Nature named Simon one of their 10 people to watch in biomedical policy. “He is known for bringing disparate groups together to find new ideas,” the journal wrote.
In the two months since President Obama placed Biden in charge of the so-called cancer “moonshot” during the State of the Union address, the vice president has emphasized “breaking down silos” among research institutions and other players in the cancer fight as a major focus of the effort. A shared data warehouse, expanded clinical trials, and new research funding are some of the ideas that have been floated.
Obama proposed an additional $755 million in his fiscal 2017 budget to fund the moonshot, including a new funding stream devoted to “out-of-the-box” ideas. The overall initiative will concentrate on early-detection technology, cancer vaccines, immunotherapy, genomic analysis of tumors, enhanced data sharing, and pediatric cancer, the administration said when announcing the budget request.