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Washington • Vice President Joe Biden will visit the Huntsman Cancer Institute in Salt Lake City next week to spotlight the administration's "moonshot" effort to cure cancer.
The White House confirmed Thursday that Biden will fly into Utah on Feb. 26 to participate in a discussion at the cancer institute about the initiative President Barack Obama has tapped him to lead.
Biden, who will be flying to Salt Lake City from economic discussions in Mexico City, already has met with more than 220 leading oncologists and researchers about the topic, and the Obama administration has requested $1 billion to jump-start the effort to find a cure for cancer.
The vice president said the goal of the "moonshot" a nod to the successful U.S. effort to land a man on the moon in the 1960s is to galvanize the medical community to make progress toward a cure and unleash new discoveries for other deadly diseases.
"The federal government will do everything it possibly can through funding, targeted incentives and increased private-sector coordination to support research and enable progress," Biden said in a Medium post in January. "We'll encourage leading cancer centers to reach unprecedented levels of cooperation, so we can learn more about this terrible disease and how to stop it in its tracks."
The Huntsman Cancer Institute was founded by billionaire industrialist/philanthropist Jon Huntsman Sr. with a donation of $100 million. The Huntsman family has to date contributed $450 million to the institute, the only National Cancer Institute-designated research facility in the Intermountain West.
Mary Beckerle, the CEO and director of the Huntsman Cancer Institute, said her organization looks forward to showing Biden some of the more crucial research it's involved with as well as the opportunities the Salt Lake City center offers, such as genetic research with the Utah Population Database.
The institute is already known for its work and Biden helps underscore that contribution to cure cancer, she said.
"This highlights that recognition and the Huntsman Cancer Institute's place within the national cancer program," Beckerle said in an interview. "It's a really important opportunity for us to introduce Vice President Biden and his team in a firsthand kind of way to some of the pioneering and innovative research we're doing here at Huntsman Cancer Institute."