White House Announces New Appointments to President’s Cancer Panel to Bolster Cancer Moonshot Program

President Biden announced his intent to appoint Mitchel Berger, MD, Carol L. Brown, MD, and Elizabeth M. Jaffe, MD, to the President’s Cancer Panel to help aid in the Biden-Harris administration's renewed Cancer Moonshot Program.

President Biden has announced his intent to appoint Mitchel Berger, MD, Carol L. Brown, MD, and Elizabeth M. Jaffe, MD, to the President’s Cancer Panel to advise him on how best to progress in reducing the burden of cancer as a part of the Biden-Harris administration renewed Cancer Moonshot Program, according to a press release from the White House.1

The President’s Cancer Panel is a volunteer panel of experts that will advise the president on how to best use federal resources to make progress for patients with cancer, especially through cancer research programs. Elizabeth M. Jaffee, deputy director of the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins, will serve as chair of the panel, returning to the Cancer Moonshot program after being co-chair of the Blue Ribbon Panel of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) that gave scientific advice to then Vice President Biden’s Moonshot Initiative.

For the past 20 years, Mitchel Berger, another former member of the NCI Blue Ribbon Panel and original Cancer Moonshot initiative, has served as the principal investigator for Brain SPORE (Specialized Program of Research Excellence). He is also a director of the University of California San Francisco Brain Tumor Center, working on wide ranging clinical trials. Additionally, he previously served as president for both the American Association of Neurological Surgeons and the Society of NeuroOncology.

Carol L. Brown, senior vice president and chief health equity officer at Memorial Sloan Kettering (MSK) Cancer Center is a gynecologic oncologist whose career has focused on center wide initiatives at the MSK Cancer Center to achieve health equity and address disparities in cancer care. As the 50th president of the Society of Gynecologic Oncology, she was the first Black female to lead the 2,000-member organization and has looked to increase clinical trial participation of previously under-served patients.

Jaffe, Berger, and Brown will help advise the Biden-Harris administration with the President’s goal of the Cancer Moonshot Program to, “end cancer as we know it,” and work with the Cancer Cabinet toward this goal.2 The Cancer Cabinet, made up of First Lady Jill Biden, Cabinet Members, and leadership within the administration, is looking to lead the Cancer Moonshot program’s new goal of reducing the death rate from cancer by 50% over the next 25 years and improving the experience of patients, and their families, living with and also surviving cancer.

In 2016, Congress authorized the Cancer Moonshot Initiative $1.8 billion over the course of 7 years, as a part of the 21st Century Cures Act for this vision. Now, the President has also expanded the Cancer Cabinet to deliver on the goal set out by the administration. The new departments joining the initiative include the U.S. Departments of Labor and Commerce, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and the White House Gender Policy Council.

The Department of Labor is set to find ways to support patients and caregivers with resources to understand their rights when taking time off from work when related to a cancer diagnosis and is looking to advance an agenda that protects workers in various settings when impacted by a cancer diagnosis. The Department of Commerce is looking to bring new capabilities to speed cancer treatment innovation through the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and the manufacturing and research capabilities of the National Institute of Standards and Technology. NASA will be providing scientific help in a way that brings cancer quite close to the moon itself.

“NASA’s expertise in radiation and extreme environment provides the ability to support ground-breaking research, including on the International Space Station, expanding the tools we have to find new approaches to prevent, detect, and treat cancer,” the White House explained in their press release.

Along with expanding the cancer cabinet and appointing leadership for the cancer panel, the administration has set out 5 priorities for the Moonshot program to address. These priorities included closing the cancer screening gap that emerged due to the COVID-19 pandemic, to better understand and address environmental and toxic exposures that impact cancer, to decrease the impact of preventable cancers by expanding preventative measures, tobring cutting edge research through the pipeline to patients and communities, and tosupport patients and caregivers through the entire cancer process.

“The past 5 years has seen remarkable progress in achieving the original goals of the Cancer Moonshot, but the impact of that progress on the detection, prevention and treatment of cancer are likely to become more evident in the coming years,” concluded Dinah S. Singer, PhD, in an article for Nature Medicine discussing the renewed program.3 “Key discoveries and insights have been made that will translate into improved outcomes for people with cancer, along with an infrastructure to support rapid data sharing and a collaborative culture, which is now embedded within the cancer research community.”

1. FACT SHEET: President biden appoints cancer panel members and cancer cabinet unveils priority actions. The White House. July 13, 2022. Accessed: July 21, 2022. https://bit.ly/3RSE3lv
2. Cancer Moonshot℠. National Cancer Institute. February 2nd, 2022. Accessed: July 21, 2022. https://bit.ly/3OsfRDA
3. Singer DS. A new phase of the cancer moonshot to end cancer as we know it. Nat Med. 2022 Jun 27:1–3. doi:10.1038/s41591-022-01881-5