Vice President Biden's "Cancer Moonshot" Visit To VT/UVM/Medical Center

Senator Leahy invited Vice President Biden to UVM/UVM Medical Center to discuss Vermont’s work on cancer research, in conjunction with President Obama’s Cancer Moonshot initiative. Biden chairs the Cancer Moonshot Task Force and presented the Task Force’s recommendations to President Obama this week (on Monday, Oct. 17). Webcast coverage of Friday’s event at UVM begins at 10 a.m. Friday and can be viewed at this LINK: Cancer Moonshot Event

N e w s    B a c k g r o u n d e r

Vermont And UVM Have A Track Record Of Initiative And Effort
In Cancer Research And Prevention And In Supporting Cancer Patients

Every Vermonter and every American is touched in some way by cancer – through family, friends, coworkers, community, or themselves. Patrick and Marcelle Leahy are no different. Theirs is a personal experience, drawn from Marcelle’s own successful fight against melanoma. Together they are committed to conquering cancer, promoting research and prevention, and widening access to care. Patrick Leahy was one of the first lawmakers chosen by the National Breast Cancer Coalition to be inducted into the Breast Cancer Hall of Fame.

The University of Vermont and the UVM Medical Center right now are among research labs on such new frontiers as precision cancer treatment, and using genome mapping to treat patients. That is why Senator Leahy invited Vice President Biden to visit UVM and the UVM Medical Center in conjunction with the Vice President’s leadership of the President’s “Cancer Moonshot Task Force” initiative. Just this week – on Oct. 17 -- Vice President Biden presented the Task Force’s recommendations to President Obama.

‘Born In Vermont’ Cancer Research Advances

Leahy authored the law establishing the National Program of Cancer Registries

Inspired by a letter-writing campaign led by two Vermont breast cancer survivors, Joanne Rathgeb and Virginia Soffa, in 1992, Senator Patrick Leahy, joined by then-Representative Bernie Sanders in the House, introduced legislation to establish a national cancer registry. It was signed into law in October 1992.

The Cancer Registries Amendment Act provided federal resources to set up a national system of cancer registries to record data on the incidence, stage, and treatment of cancer. The law also launched a five-year comprehensive study to examine why breast cancer death rates were higher for women in Northeastern states than in other parts of the country.

Today, the National Program of Cancer Registries, under the oversight of the Centers for Disease Control, supports central cancer registries in 45 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Pacific Island Jurisdictions, representing 96 percent of the U.S. population.

The information gathered by the cancer registries helps researchers monitor cancer trends and help set priorities for allocating resources to researching and fighting cancer.

Leahy also led efforts creating the DoD Breast Cancer Research Program

Senator Leahy initiated efforts to create the Breast Cancer Research Program based on the advocacy of Pat Barr, a Vermonter with breast cancer who helped start the National Breast Cancer Coalition, the first nationwide advocacy group for people with breast cancer. In October 1991, the National Breast Cancer Coalition sent 600,000 letters to Congress and the Bush Administration as part of its “$300 million more” campaign to increase funding for breast cancer research.

Spurred by Pat Barr’s advocacy and example, Leahy proposed a successful amendment to the Defense Appropriations bill in 1991 to provide $25 million for breast cancer research. At the time, the Department of Defense had research programs in the works for prostate cancer, but nothing similar for breast cancer incidence among servicewomen. This initial investment led to the establishment of the Breast Cancer Research Program, which by now has now received more than $3.16 billion in federal dollars.

In 1994, Senator Leahy pushed then-Secretary of Defense William Perry to release the $25 million designated for breast cancer research. The funds had been put on hold at the Pentagon since they were appropriated by Congress in the preceding year. Senator Leahy joined breast cancer research advocates outside of the Capitol to protest the Department of Defense’s withholding of the funds.

Making cancer research a national priority: Leahy continues to lead efforts to support Appropriations to advance cancer research

Institutional Development Award (IDeA) Program: Funded through the National Institutes of Health, the IDeA program enhances the biomedical research activities in 24 states, including Vermont. Senator Leahy has long fought to preserve and expand this program, including a $13 million increase in the Senate’s FY17 Labor, Health, and Human Services Appropriations bill. In 2011, Senator Leahy led an effort to ensure a proposed reorganization of the translational research programs at the National Institutes of Health to preserve the IDeA program. The program has brought millions of dollars in research funding to Vermont, and it helped create and maintain the Vermont Lung Center, which focuses on translational research and lung biology. Targeted investments from IDeA have led to tremendous medical advances in treatment of diseases, including cancer.

Childhood Cancers: Childhood cancers are extremely aggressive and especially difficult to cure. Leahy has been involved in efforts to better research and treat these forms of cancer, including as a cosponsor of the Childhood Cancer Survivorship, Treatment, Access, and Research Act. Supporting children and their families after a cancer diagnosis is also critically important, which is why Patrick and Marcelle Leahy have long been involved and volunteered with Tracy’s Kids, a pediatric art therapy program.

Federal Resources for Cancer Research: Each year Leahy fights to bolster funding for cancer research and to make cancer research a priority on the powerful Appropriations Committee. This year, he supported advancing a federal Appropriations bill for the Departments of Labor and Health and Human Services that included $34.1 billion for the National Institutes of Health, which includes $5.42 billion for the National Cancer Institute. The bill also allocates more than $1 billion for the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, which supports such initiatives such as cancer prevention and control, breast cancer awareness, cancer registries, the Cancer Survivorship Resource Center, and research for colorectal, prostate, ovarian, skin, breast and cervical cancers.

Office Of Senator Patrick Leahy

Press Contact

Press Contact
David Carle: 202-224-3693