Advocacy, Education & Lobbying

Cancer Moonshot Initiative

In January 2016, then-President Barack Obama announced a $1B National Cancer Moonshot Initiative. The initiative, led by former Vice President Joe Biden, aims to accelerate research efforts and break down barriers to progress by enhancing data access, and facilitating collaborations with researchers, doctors, philanthropies, patients, and patient advocates, and biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies. The overarching goal is to bring about a decade’s worth of advances in five years, making more therapies available to more patients, while also improving our ability to prevent cancer and detect it at an early stage.

Vice President Biden is moving forward with his efforts to focus upon ending cancer as a part of his priorities during his last year in office and beyond.  Immunotherapy, genomics and combination therapies are central to these research efforts.

Throughout 2016, SITC leaders participated in the Cancer Moonshot as the collective voice for the field of cancer immunotherapy. SITC involvement has taken shape in the following ways: 

  • SITC leaders extended a letter of support and participated in ongoing discussions with Vice President Biden's Office.
  • SITC members crafted recommendations as part of the Cancer Moonshot Blue Ribbon Panel and Working Groups. You can view the report here.

SITC Blue Ribbon Panel Members

  • James P. Allison, PhDUniversity of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
  • Jeffery A. Bluestone, PhDUniversity of California San Francisco
  • Elizabeth M. Jaffee, MDThe Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins University (Panel Co-Chair)
  • Augusto C. Ochoa, MDLouisiana State University Health Sciences Center

On June 29, 2016, Biden convened a Cancer Moonshot Summit in Washington, D.C. SITC was represented by the society's Executive Director, Tara Withington, CAE along with other SITC members in attendance.  In connection with the D.C. summit, SITC hosted a virtual Twitter summit to foster discussion amongst members, colleagues, patients, and advocates.

On October 17, 2016, Biden delivered the Cancer Moonshot report to the President and the American public. The report summarizes the work of the Cancer Moonshot Task Force since its creation in January, and lays out the Vice President’s strategic plan for transforming cancer research and care. The report also includes the Cancer Moonshot Blue Ribbon Panel’s identified areas of scientific opportunity. SITC leaders including Executive Director Tara Withington, CAE were in attendance onsite.


SITC Executive Director Tara Withington posing with Dr. Augusto Ochoa, Director of the LSU Health New Orleans Stanley S. Scott Cancer Center, on October 17, 2016 at the White House.

Contact SITC

If you have partnership or policy-related questions, please contact Director of Strategic Partnerships Kate Flynn, MPA at

21st Century Cures Act

On December 7, 2016, the U.S. Senate approved the 21st Century Cures Act, a wide-ranging health bill whose passage ensured the American government's commitment to curing cancer. President Barack Obama signed the bill into law soon there after.

The 21st Century Cures Act, sponsored by U.S. Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), invests more than $6.5 billion in a variety of healthcare initiatives, including funding for cancer research. Among the ways it will affect our field’s future is enhancing the ability to more effectively use large volumes of data toward clinical advancements in cancer research, spark development of precision medicine, and accelerates the pace of clinical trials through the required use of centralized institutional review boards.

SITC joined 20 other cancer-focused organizations in a letter publicly declaring support for the Cures Act. 

The letter – sent by the NCCR, an advocacy companion organization of the National Coalition for Cancer Research – stressed the critical importance of the bill, including investing in the future of biomedical research with an emphasis on promoting young investigators in the cancer research field.

Click here to read the NCCR letter.

SITC Co-Leads Immuno-Oncology Policy Working Group

The Immuno-Oncology Policy Working Group launched in December 2015 to develop a strategic policy plan to accelerate progress for immune-oncology in multiple disease types and settings. SITC is co-leading this initiative, joining Friends of Cancer Research, EMD Serono and Pfizer.

Immuno-oncology (I-O) has been fueled by numerous clinical trial successes in recent years and has already transformed traditional approaches to cancer treatment. The I-O Policy Working Group develops policy strategies to facilitate the development and use of immuno-oncology treatments including regulatory, legislative, reimbursement and education/training efforts.

Broadly, outstanding challenges fall into two categories: scientific, related to furthering our understanding of the mechanisms that drive immunotherapy, and systemic, related to ensuring these therapies are appropriately used as single agents or in combination in the clinical setting. At a time when mainstream adoption of I-O is still taking hold, an opportunity exists to learn from early experiences with I-O in melanoma and lung cancer, and identify and address high priority policy-related issues defined by the emerging science.

While many of the challenges will be addressed as our understanding of the mechanisms of action behind immune-oncology develop, there is a role for the multi-stakeholder community to facilitate development of and appropriate access to those scientific discoveries by leveraging and mobilizing our collective knowledge to support innovation in immune-oncology.

The output of this effort is informed by recent advancements in research, intended to be outcome-driven, and designed to leverage and complement other ongoing activities in the field.

Learn more about the participating constituencies of the I-O Policy Working Group.