|20 January 2016|

At the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2016, US Vice-President Joe Biden convened a panel of eminent scientists, doctors and technologists to discuss the priorities for the American moonshot campaign to cure cancer that was launched by President Barack Obama in his State of the Union address to the US Congress last week. “Our goal is to make a decade worth of advances in five years,” Biden told participants. “We are not looking for incremental changes; we are looking for quantum leaps,” he said.

“We are at an inflection point,” the vice-president remarked. “Research and therapies are on the cusp of incredible breakthroughs.” Tapping the treasure trove of data and information on cancer cases, research and treatments across a whole range of disciplines is vital to achieve significant progress in fighting the disease, said Biden, whom Obama placed in charge of the anti-cancer initiative.

“We can speed up research advances and access to cures. We can do more if this information is widely shared. We are going to make sure of that. I promise you I can clear the way,” said Biden.

Experts at the table agreed that improving the access to data and the capacity to analyse and glean insights from the vast amounts of information are key to winning the battle against cancer.

Bill McDermott, chief executive Officer of software group SAP. “If we really take a patient-centric view of the world, healthcare can improve substantially. The problem is how we aggregate data so it is accessible.”

At the conclusion of the session, Biden proposed that the panel reconvene in the near future to discuss the big-data dimension of cancer research and treatment. “We may be able to change people’s lives,” he concluded.

Over 2,500 leaders from business, government, international organisations, civil society, academia, media and the arts are participating in the 46th World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland, from 20-23 January. Under the theme, Mastering the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the programme comprises over 300 sessions, of which over 100 sessions will be webcast live.