TIME State of the Union 2016

President Obama Puts Joe Biden in Charge of Curing Cancer

Just months after Biden lost his son to the disease

President Obama announced Tuesday in his final State of the Union that Vice President Joe Biden would spearhead an initiative to cure cancer.

“Last year, Vice President Biden said that with a new moonshot, America can cure cancer,” Obama said, before noting that Biden has worked with Congress to add resources for the National Institutes of Health. “Tonight, I’m announcing a new national effort to get it done. And because he’s gone to the mat for all of us, on so many issues over the past forty years, I’m putting Joe in charge of Mission Control. For the loved ones we’ve all lost, for the family we can still save, let’s make America the country that cures cancer once and for all.”

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images
Saul Loeb—AFP/Getty ImagesPresident Barack Obama gestures to Vice President Joe Biden during the State of the Union Address in Washington on Jan. 12, 2016.

This comment got enormous applause, as the President turned to Biden and went off script, saying, “What do you say, Joe?” Biden gave him a thumbs up, to more applause. “Let’s make it happen,” President Obama said.

Vice President Biden lost his son, Beau Biden, 46, to brain cancer in 2015.

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