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Remarks on Launch of the Partnership for Accelerating Cancer Therapies (PACT)

Eric D. Hargan
News conference and stakeholders
October 12, 2017
Washington, DC

Our hope for this partnership, and others like it, is that closer cooperation between NIH, NCI, and private industry will mean more cures and more lives saved in shorter time.


As Prepared for Delivery

Thank you, Reed [Cordish], for that introduction, and for representing President Trump here today.

We know today’s announcement is a part of an effort he is deeply devoted to, advancing life-saving cures to deadly diseases.

Thank you to Dr. [Francis] Collins and Dr. [Douglas] Lowy from the National Institutes of Health and the National Cancer Institute, and thank you to our partners from private industry for joining us as well.

Thank you also to Melinda Bachini, who will speak a little later about her personal experience with the transformative, life-giving potential of immunotherapy.

Lastly, thank you to the thousands of NIH researchers in Bethesda and across the country who work every day to make medical miracles possible, and thank you to the other employees of NIH who make the research possible, too.

It is a special honor to be here in my first public appearance as Acting Secretary, because HHS’s role in advancing biomedical research is such a cherished, important part of our mission, and today is a major step forward in fulfilling that mission. It’s also close to my heart personally, as someone who worked in the Public Health section of the General Counsel’s office during a previous tour of duty at HHS, where I actually had NIH as a client.

We’re here to announce the Partnership for Accelerating Cancer Therapies, a $215 million public-private partnership, involving NIH and the private companies here today, to battle cancer and boost the potential and availability of immunotherapies.

Immunotherapy is one of the most promising fronts we have in the war on cancer, and public-private partnerships like this one enable NIH and private innovators to work together in accelerating their research.

NIH does the basic scientific research like identifying which biomarkers make patients well-suited to certain treatments, while the private sector helps develop the actual drugs and bring them to market.

This scale of public-private partnership is relatively new: The first such agreement was launched under Dr. Collins in 2014, the Accelerating Medicines Partnership, or AMP. That partnership covers treatments for Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain autoimmune disorders, and involves many of the groups in this room.

But the concept of combining public investment in biomedical research with private ingenuity is nothing new to NIH and American science.

Our hope for this partnership is that closer cooperation between NIH, NCI, and private industry will mean more cures and more lives saved in shorter time.

Let me give you a brief piece of historical perspective on that.

Last week, we had the privilege of celebrating four NIH grantees who received Nobel Prizes.

The very first NIH grantee who received a Nobel Prize, back in 1939, was an NCI grantee, physicist Ernest Lawrence. His development of the cyclotron gave rise to a treatment for cancer that involved targeted bursts of neutrons.

But it took decades and decades for researchers, really into the 1970s, to determine what kind of patients and what kind of cancers were suitable for neutron treatments.

Things move a lot faster now at NIH and NCI. With this partnership, we expect things to move faster still, and faster cures mean longer lives.

Today’s announcement is part of broad efforts underway at HHS to advance the science of oncology, under the umbrella of the Cancer Moonshot.

Those efforts also include the work of the Food and Drug Administration under Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, and the FDA’s Oncology Center of Excellence in particular.

Under President Trump, we are going to continue making significant investments in cancer cures. Advancing great American medicine and science is a top, top priority for this administration.

So thank you again for joining us here today. It’s now my pleasure to introduce our next speaker, one of the key players in that effort for the administration, Dr. Francis Collins, Director of the National Institutes of Health, to explain this new partnership in a little more detail.

Content created by Speechwriting and Editorial Division 
Content last reviewed on October 12, 2017