In his State of the Union address in January, President Barack Obama declared a “moonshot” approach to accelerate progress toward improved cancer prevention, detection and treatment strategies.

The Moonshot Initiative is being spearheaded by Vice President Joe Biden, and a “Blue Ribbon Panel” of advisors was announced in early April. The National Cancer Institute (NCI) describes the Blue Ribbon Panel as providing “expert advice on the vision, proposed scientific goals and implementation of the Moonshot Initiative.”

The panel is co-chaired by Tyler Jacks, PhD, Elizabeth Jaffee, MD, and Dinah Singer, PhD. Two of the three have a close relationship with the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network.

Dr. Jacks, director of the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), was the recipient of our 2012 Blum-Kovler – Innovative Grant. Dr. Jaffee is the deputy director of the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins University. She also serves on our Emeritus Scientific and Medical Advisory Board.

“It is extremely exciting to have two pancreatic cancer-related researchers on the Blue Ribbon Panel,” Megan Gordon Don, vice president of government affairs & advocacy, said. “We have high hopes that this effort will help shine a light on and address some of the challenges faced by our nation’s deadliest cancers, those with five-year relative survival rates below 50 percent.”

Gordon Don, along with Chief Research Officer Lynn Matrisian, PhD, MBA, and research grant recipient and Scientific and Medical Advisory Board chair-elect Diane Simeone, MD, met with VP Biden’s office in February of this year. The group highlighted the innovative work our organization is doing for pancreatic cancer and the other deadliest cancers and discussed ways these initiatives could contribute to the Moonshot Initiative.

“This is a very important effort,” Gordon Don said. “And now, having pancreatic cancer researchers in leadership roles guiding the Moonshot Initiative can help move us closer to our goal to double pancreatic cancer survival by 2020.

“We are looking forward to continuing to work with Drs. Jacks and Jaffee in these new roles as well as with the NCI and the Administration.”