Biden presents plans for new cancer initiative at SXSW

The crowd applauds as former Vice President Joe Biden and his wife Dr. Jill Biden take the stage at SXSW March 12, 2017. (KXAN/Frank Martinez)
The crowd applauds as former Vice President Joe Biden and his wife Dr. Jill Biden take the stage at SXSW March 12, 2017. (KXAN/Frank Martinez)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Former Vice President Joe Biden announced his plans to create the Biden Cancer Initiative at SXSW in Austin Sunday.

“I had one regret in making the decision not to run. Would have loved to have been the president who presided over the end of cancer,” Biden said.

Sarah Peas waited for nearly four hours to be first in a line several hundred deep. “I think a lot of people are curious what former Obama Administration officials are doing next and I’m pretty excited to here from him directly,” said Peas.

Now that Biden is out of the White House, he’s no longer in charge. He launched his non-profit here at SXSW — the Biden Cancer Initiative — to continue the work.

“I have the most innovative minds in the world sitting in front of me,” said Biden.

Vice President Biden chose SXSW because of the crowds. This is one of the best places to get diverse and influential people all in one room. His first goal is to mobilize millennials to break down bureaucratic “silos” that block best practices and information from hospital to hospital, agency to agency, organization to organization.

Then he hopes to leverage the tech community’s ability to market ideas to the masses.

‘We need to reach people. To make it clear to them why it’s important to get tested, how to do it, and why it’s painless,” said Biden.

He says the goal is to make cancer preventable and controllable for the next generation — not a death sentence.

Biden’s involvement in finding a cure for cancer is rooted in the loss of his oldest son, Beau, who lost a long battle with brain cancer in May 2015.

President Obama offered the eulogy at the former Delaware Attorney General and Army soldier’s funeral.

“He did in 46 years what most of us couldn’t do in 146,” President Obama said. “He left nothing in the tank. He was a man who led a life where the means were as important as the ends.”

After months of speculation, his father, Joe, announced in October 2015 that he would not run for President, saying his time had passed.

“As my family and I have worked through the grieving process, I’ve said all along and I’ve said time and again to others that it may very well be that that process, by the time we get through it, closes the window on mounting a realistic campaign for President, that it might close,” the former Vice President said at the time. “I couldn’t do this if the family wasn’t ready. The good news is the family has reached that point … unfortunately I believe we are out of time, the time necessary to mount a winning campaign for the nomination.”

During President Obama’s last State of the Union address in January 2016, he charged his friend, Vice President Biden, with a monumental task.

“Last year, Vice President Biden said that with a new moonshot, America can cure cancer. … I’m announcing a new national effort to get it done. And because he’s gone to the mat for all of us, on so many issues over the past forty years, I’m putting Joe in charge of Mission Control. For the loved ones we’ve all lost, for the family we can still save, let’s make America the country that cures cancer once and for all.”

In his last weeks as Vice President, a unanimous, bipartisan vote in the Senate changed the name of a portion of the 21st Century Cares Bill after his late son.

“I think it’s fitting to dedicate this bill’s critical cancer initiative in honor of someone who would be proud of the presiding officer today, and that’s his son, Beau,” Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said. “And in just a moment that’s exactly what the Senate will do. Renaming the [National Institutes of Health’s] cancer initiatives in this bill after Beau Biden.”

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