Cancer Moonshot 2020

Cancer Moonshot and Other Research Resources

Judy Keen
May 18, 2016

Within cancer research circles, there has been quite a bit of press about immunotherapy and the Vice President’s Cancer Moonshot program. Ultimately, this program is looking to streamline how cancer research is done in order to increase the speed of discovery that will produce 10 years of progress within five years. Joe Biden, his executive director Greg Simon, and the rest of the team are looking at ways to focus research, break down silos, and streamline grant making processes. There is still some time before the government resources will be appropriated and made available for this, but one of the most interesting part of this program is all of the follow on funding from private philanthropists that is starting to emerge.

In March, Sidney Kimmel and Mike Bloomberg together donated $125 million to Johns Hopkins to endow the Kimmel-Bloomberg Center for Immunotherapy Research. This was followed quickly by a $250 million donation by Sean Parker that created the Immunology Dream Team - a collaboration between the Cancer Research Institute and Stand Up To Cancer. The development of such additional resources is unprecedented and can offer support to the program to truly change the game. These additional resources will help propel the field of cancer immunotherapy and, importantly, will explore how the combination of immunotherapy with other modalities including radiation, chemotherapy, and surgery can vastly improve the overall number of patients who respond and the patient outcomes that result from this therapy. 

These types of additional philanthropic donations that result in new, unique collaborations will help move cancer research forward. They do need to make sure that all types of treatment are considered. If researchers are to consider thinking outside the box in order to create change, then all the players need to be at the table and new resources to fund these projects must include a variety of researchers. It will be interesting to see what additional funding opportunities will continue to emerge.

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Judy Keen

Judy is a S&T Alumni Fellow (HEHS, 2012-2014). She blogs about the latest cancer research, increasing the access to the scientific literature, and graduate education. Follow Judy on twitter @judykeenphd or at


This blog does not necessarily reflect the views of AAAS, its Council, Board of Directors, officers, or members. AAAS is not responsible for the accuracy of this material. AAAS has made this material available as a public service, but this does not constitute endorsement by the association.

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