President Joe Biden revealed a new cancer research initiative that would fall under its Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H) to aid doctors in determining cancerous cells and healthy tissue during surgery, according to Newsmax. Cancer has always been something that the president held dear to him given the death of his 46-year-old son Beau Biden, who died from brain cancer in 2015.
In September 2022, Biden said that he wanted the United States to focus on ending cancer, according to The Associated Press. In the same vein as John F. Kennedy, Biden said he wanted this to be a “national purpose” that unites people around the country. With his administration, Biden reportedly hopes to cut cancer deaths in half by 50 percent and prevent 4 million deaths by 2047.
This new agency under the administration is reportedly starting a Precision Surgical Interventions program, which will bring together ideas from both the public and private sectors on how to dramatically improve cancer outcomes by improving surgical procedures. The procedures will be aimed at helping doctors only remove cancerous cells without negatively affecting healthy nerves and blood vessels.
The initiative is reportedly part of the administration’s “cancer moonshot,” which will ensure that Precision Surgical Intervention (PSI) technologies will be accessible to those living in rural and urban areas. The program takes its name and ambition from the 1960s moon landing, as it seeks to do what may be considered impossible.
Biden stated that while “removing cancer can be incredibly challenging…surgery is often the first best step.”
ARPA-H is modeled after the Defense Department’s Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), which focuses on breakthrough security technology. The agency was originally under ARPA when it was created in 1958 by President Dwight D. Eisenhower. It was a response to the Soviet Union’s Sputnik 1 in 1957, the first satellite.