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In nod to JFK, Biden returns to Boston to relaunch cancer moonshot initiative

President Biden spoke during a "Cancer Moonshot," event in the East Room of the White House, Feb. 2, 2022, in Washington.Alex Brandon/Associated Press

President Biden will visit Boston Monday to deliver a speech on his Cancer Moonshot Initiative, which aims to cut the cancer death rate in half over the next 25 years and provide greater support to caregivers and survivors.

The president will give the speech at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library 60 years to the day of President John F. Kennedy’s 1962 moonshot address at Rice University in Houston.

Biden launched the cancer moonshot at the tail end of the Obama administration. After a hiatus during the Trump administration, the president relaunched the initiative in February.

This isn’t the first time Biden has talked up his initiative in Boston.


In October 2016, Biden delivered remarks on the effort at the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the U.S. Senate next door to the JFK library.

Presidential efforts to reduce cancer deaths and comparisons to the space race began when President Richard M. Nixon said in a December 1971 address that “the same kind of concentrated effort that split the atom and took man to the moon should be turned toward conquering this dread disease.”

During his address at the Edward Kennedy Institute, Biden reflected that Nixon’s effort achieved little at first, but leaps in technology, much of them achieved in Boston, had changed the outlook.

“After 45 years of progress, after decades of funding research . . . after training scientists and physicians treating millions of patients because of so many of the people in this great city involved in cancer research at the major hospitals of the world, we now have an army,” Biden said. “And with this moonshot I believe we have a clear strategy on how to move ahead.”

The cancer initiative is personal for Biden, who lost his son Beau Biden to brain cancer in 2015.


Biden will spend the first part of the day in Boston touting the benefits of the bipartisan infrastructure deal.

Governor Charlie Baker and members of the Massachusetts congressional delegation will attend the infrastructure event, which will take place at Logan International Airport, Baker’s office said.

The president traveled to Massachusetts last month to talk about climate change at a shuttered coal-fired power plant in Somerset.

Traffic is expected to be heavy as the president and his security detail visit the city, police said.

“Motorists in and around Boston may experience traffic detours or delays on Monday due to a special event. There may be bus delays as well. Please note there is no threat to public safety, but please plan ahead for potential traffic disruption,” Massachusetts State Police said in a tweet.

Alexander Thompson can be reached at alexander.thompson@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @AlMThompson