Onboard the Cancer Moonshot

Representatives of Children’s Hospital participated in the ambitious presidential initiative.

The Obama administration consistently displayed a commitment to accelerating cancer research and making more therapies available to more patients. Those efforts benefited from the expertise of a Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia pediatric oncologist. Peter C. Adamson, MD, was selected as one of the advisers for the national Cancer Moonshot initiative, led by Vice President Joe Biden. Adamson was named to the National Cancer Institute’s Blue Ribbon Panel of scientific experts, cancer leaders and patient advocates who were tasked with informing the initiative’s scientific direction and goals.

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Cancer patients Amelia, 7, and Lucas, 4, who’s shown with his oncologist, Peter C. Adamson, MD

The panel ultimately released recommendations for speeding progress against the disease, and among them were an emphasis on curing pediatric cancers and the creation of a national data-sharing network. The panel also served as a working group of the presidentially appointed National Cancer Advisory Board (NCAB). Adamson, who is chair of the international Children’s Oncology Group, was previously named to the NCAB in 2015 by President Obama.

A Momentous Meeting

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Shortly after Adamson’s appointment to the Blue Ribbon Panel, CHOP President and CEO Madeline Bell; Phillip B. “Jay” Storm, MD, chief of the Division of Neurosurgery; John Maris, MD, pediatric oncologist, neuroblastoma researcher and co-leader of the Pediatric Cancer Dream Team; and Peter Grollman, Senior Vice President of Public Affairs, met with Vice President Biden and his senior staff at the White House about the Cancer Moonshot and stressed the need to emphasize pediatric research within the initiative.

Storm grew up in Wilmington, Del., and his family was acquainted with Biden’s. “When he realized who I was, he asked if I had known his son Beau,” says the CHOP clinician. Indeed, Storm and Beau Biden — whose death in 2015 was the result of brain cancer — were a year apart in the same high school.

Biden and the CHOP team discussed the federal government’s role in facilitating research collaboration via data sharing. “We’ve been sharing data for years,” Storm says of CHOP, “but some of the top institutions are resistant to it. I think the administration’s initiative has highlighted the situation and put pressure on people to share data.” The group also discussed increasing research into secondary conditions resulting from cancer treatment and ensuring that the nursing workforce meets the needs of patients.

Storm reports Biden saying he could talk to them all day — and indeed, Biden’s secretary came in several times during the 45-minute meeting to remind him of other appointments. “The third time she came in,” says Storm, “she said, ‘Sir, you really need to go. The President is waiting for you!’”

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