The Developing World Needs A Cancer Moonshot

In his final State of the Union address in January, there President Obama announced the so-called Cancer Moonshot initiative and put Vice President Biden in charge of the national effort to accelerate cancer research, which aims to cram a decade’s worth of progress into just five years.

As part of the ambitious project, Biden unveiled in June an open-access cancer research database called the Genomic Data Commons, a first-of-its-kind public data platform to help researchers share and use data broadly with other researchers and compare findings. The database will be housed under the National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health and is designed to store anonymous data from patients’ tumor genome sequences. Initially, the database will include genomic information from 12,000 patients, but more data will be added over time.

It’s a laudable endeavor, but it’s one that won’t include the majority of cancer patients—those who live outside of the United States in developing countries.

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