Cancer ‘Moonshot'Blue Ribbon Report Out in September

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By Jeannie Baumann

Aug. 22 — The cancer “moonshot” panel charged with developing the White House initiative's scientific agenda will release its recommendations in early September.

David Arons, a member of the Cancer Moonshot Blue Ribbon Panel, said the group will deliver the findings from the past four months during the National Cancer Advisory Board's Sept. 7 meeting. Amy Williams, acting director of the National Cancer Institute's Office of Advocacy Relations, said she expects the report will be released publicly a few days after the NCAB's meeting.

The early September projection is the most specific announcement yet about when the recommendations from the advisory panel—which the NIH formed in late April—may be coming out (10 LSLR 08, 4/15/16).

During a teleconference involving another committee of the NCI, part of the National Institutes of Health, Arons indicated what topics and types of recommendations are likely to be in the report. If adopted by the NIH, the panel's recommendations would eventually inform the types of grants the NIH will fund to support the initiative led by Vice President Joe Biden to double the rate of progress on cancer treatments and prevention.

Arons, who is the chief executive officer of the National Brain Tumor Society, made his remarks during an Aug. 21 teleconference meeting for an NCI advisory committee called the Council of Research Advocates. As both chairman of the research advocates committee and a member of the blue ribbon panel, Arons updated the research advocates council on the cancer initiative.

The blue ribbon panel's report is likely to cover specific topics such as clinical trials, include policy recommendations and provide recommendations on cross-cutting topic areas such as pediatric cancers and health-care disparities.

Built by Working Groups

Many of the recommendations will stem from seven working groups established by the panel covering these fields of cancer research:

  •  expansion of clinical trials;
  •  enhanced data sharing;
  •  cancer immunology and prevention;
  •  implementation sciences, or the study of methods to promote integrating research findings and evidence into health-care policy and practice;
  •  pediatric cancer;
  •  precision prevention and early detection; and
  •  tumor evolution and progression

The NIH directed the working group to develop a few “transformative” recommendations and not just large, exciting proposals, he said.

“We were definitely told not to boil the ocean,” Arons said. “So the standard that we were given was pretty high.”

A push for better data sharing, Arons said, has been a particularly big theme for Biden and everybody in the cancer community. “But Vice President Biden really has stressed this over the last four months in ways that I don’t think any of us knew how much he was going to stress,” Arons said.

Arons also served on the clinical trials working group and said that group focused as much on improving the clinical trials process as it did on expansion efforts.

Not Setting Policy

While the report will have some policy discussion, Arons said, the panel doesn't endorse proposals.

“There was no doubt that public policy influences the environment in which science happens,” he said. “So it was germane and fair game for the blue ribbon panel to identify policy that's related, and to flag it.”

As the blue ribbon panel's main task was to provide scientific direction, Arons said, members didn't focus on policies. That role went to the White House Cancer Moonshot Task Force. The task force consists entirely of federal agency representatives. They must offer their recommendations by Dec. 31 (10 LSLR 03, 2/5/16).

“Obviously we want to get it done before this administration” ends, Arons said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jeannie Baumann in Washington at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Randy Kubetin at

For More Information

More information on the blue ribbon panel is available at .

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