My friend, Jerry Lee, is going to the White House.
I’ve known Jerry for some time through his involvement in the Scientist Survivor Program (SSP) at the American Association for Cancer Research. In 2015, I served as an Advocate Mentor for a group of SSP participants, and Jerry was our Scientific Mentor.
Jerry’s full-time position is at the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Maryland, where he is Deputy Director of NCI’s Center for Strategic Scientific Initiatives. The role he’ll be stepping into through January 2017 (when a new administration will take the reins) is Deputy Director for Cancer Research and Technologies for the White House Moonshot Task Force under the Executive Office of the Vice President.
During his 2016 State of the Union Address, President Obama called on VP Joe Biden, who lost his son Beau to brain cancer in 2015, to lead a “Moonshot” initiative to eliminate cancer. The White House issued a press release to outline the specifics of this national endeavor: https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2016/02/01/fact-sheet-investing-national-cancer-moonshot
Scientists, cancer survivors and advocates initially responded harshly to the call, since the metaphor of a “moonshot”–the implication that a single, well-targeted discovery could end all cancer–is naïve and outdated given the knowledge we now have that cancer is a multitude of diseases which continually mutate and evolve. In response to the criticism, VP Biden hit the road to learn more from people who have been studying cancer throughout their careers. His first stop was the NCI.
I can’t imagine a better choice than Jerry to join this Task Force. In addition to being a brilliant scientist, Jerry is passionate about eliminating the pain and suffering of individuals who experience cancer in one form or another.