In a letter to Vice President Biden and Congressional leaders on Monday, March 21, more than 70 deans and directors of schools and programs of public health expressed concern that the Cancer Moonshot initiative “may be undervaluing the vital role that public health and prevention have played – and must continue to play – in reducing cancer incidence and mortality.” The academic public health leaders wrote, “We urge you to pay careful attention to the balance between treatment and prevention-related investments. The development of new and innovative therapeutic cancer interventions is vital, but history has shown that the greatest impact in reducing cancer mortality rates has come from preventing cancers. While curative treatments often appear more exciting to the public, investments in public health and prevention research hold even more promise for both short- and long-term reductions in cancer incidence and mortality rates. Developing cancer cures is essential, but controlling cancer is also a policy and public health challenge. We must operate on both fronts.”
The letter, organized by ASPPH, concluded, “Investments in public health and cancer prevention can make an enormous impact on reducing cancer incidence and mortality and should be a priority of the Cancer Moonshot initiative.” ASPPH staff have been in periodic contact with the Vice President’s office, as well as with NIH, NCI and CDC officials concerning the initiative, lamenting its lack of focus on prevention. During its recent “Hill Day,” participating deans and program directors discussed these concerns with key Congressional leaders.
In an email response to the letter, a member of Vice President Biden’s staff said, “We look forward to working with you all as we move forward and appreciate you keeping prevention front and center.”
Vice President Biden on Friday announced the appointment of Mr. Greg Simon as executive director of the Cancer Moonshot Task Force. Most recently, Mr. Simon, who is a lawyer, was the CEO of Poliwogg, a financial services company focused on expanding investment opportunities in the life sciences. In 2003, Simon cofounded FasterCures, a Center of the Milken Institute. From 2009 to 2012, Simon was senior vice president for patient engagement at Pfizer. He earlier served as chief domestic policy advisor to Vice President Al Gore and as Senator Gore’s legislative director.