From: Matt Piper
Sent: Friday, February 26, 2016 1:21 PM
To: Goodman, Meghan K. EOP/OVP; Lance, Kirsten E. EOP/OVP
Subject: VP pool report 1 - lid
Friday saw Vice President Joe Biden make the Huntsman Cancer Institute his third stop on his "moonshot" campaign to cure cancer, announced by President Barack Obama in his State of the Union address.
Biden finished his morning tour of the Huntsman Cancer Institute behind schedule, leaving the fifth-floor lab for a scheduled 10:30 a.m. MT sixth-floor roundtable at 11:04 a.m.
Joining Biden on that tour were former Utah Gov. and current Huntsman Cancer Foundation chair Jon Huntsman Jr., Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch, Huntsman Cancer Institute director and CEO Mary Beckerle, Utah Population Database director Ken Smith, family gastroenterologist Jewel Samadder and Salt Lake City resident and HCI patient Gregg Johnson.
Biden's group first heard from Smith, the vice president nodding as Beckerle explained that the Institute's Utah Population Database is the largest of its kind in the world, linking family histories to more than eight million medical records.
Biden wondered what records are available dating back 70-plus years: "There aren't many records, are there?" Smith told him that in many cases they only have a death record, but they can infer genetic information from a person's descendants.
Biden asked if it would help to "harmonize" such databases. Eckerle said that would be "really beneficial," using as an example the variance in language that researchers and physicians use to describe medical conditions — "broken" vs. "fractured," for instance.
Biden then walked through the far aisle of the lab to Samadder and Johnson, whom he greeted by saying, "You're one of the patients? I thought you were the head doctor here."
After chuckling, Samadder told the group they'd traced a type of colon cancer back to the pilgrims, a genetic trait they brought to the U.S. "along with Thanksgiving."
"Thanks for pointing that part out," Huntsman said, smiling wryly.
Johnson then explained that his mother died of that type of colon cancer — familial adenomatoys polyposis, or FAP, according to an Institute staffer — at 47, and his grandmother died even younger.
He has outlived his mother by 15 years, he said, thanks to genetic screening and regular procedures under the Institute's care.
As Biden began to express his curiosity, your pooled was moved out of earshot to prepare for departure.
Staff provided the following roster for the roundtable. Also announced as present were Ballard, Utah Gov. Gary Herbert, state Sens. Wayne Niederhauser and Stephen Urquhart, Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski and Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams.
Amy Compton-Phillips, MD
Executive Vice President, Chief Clinical Officer, Providence Health and Services
Saundra Buys, MD
Co-Director, Family Cancer Assessment Clinic, Huntsman Cancer Institute
John Sweetenham, MD
Senior Director of Clinical Affairs, Huntsman Cancer Institute
Emma E. Houston
Governor Jon M. Huntsman
Chair, Huntsman Cancer Foundation
Vice President Joe Biden
Mary Beckerle, PhD
CEO and Director, Huntsman Cancer Institute
Senator Orrin Hatch
Vivian Lee, MD, PhD, MBA
Senior Vice President for Health Services, University of Utah
Charles Sorenson, MD
President, Intermountain Healthcare
Kathleen Mooney, PhD, RN
Professor of Nursing, University of Utah
Representative Jon Stanard
Utah House of Representatives
Some quick and hopefully precise notes from the roundtable, which your pooled had a poor view of but was live-streamed and will be archived at whitehouse.gov/live.
The roundtable ended at 12:59 p.m., and so ended the pool assignment.
* Biden opened his remarks with a "point of personal privilege" to thank Ballard "for the courtesy you've extended to me from the time I was a young senator." Biden said that in 1987, he met with "at least seven" of the apostles at the Salt Lake Tabernacle. "I am a student of comparative religion, and I am a fan. I admire all that you've done." Biden said church representatives presented him Friday with five volumes of his personal family history.
* Biden thanks Hatch, with whom he says he's been friends since 1974, for attending. "We have never, that I'm aware of, had a cross word. We have never been anything other than straightforward with one another, and we have never been anything other than courteous."
* Biden joked that his decision not to run in 2016 "brought a sigh of relief to a lot of Democrats. But all kidding aside ... I did say it was my plan not to run but not to disengage." One regret he has, he said, is that "I would have loved to have been the president to [oversee] ... a fundamental shift in our war on cancer."
* Biden, who previously visited Penn and Duke and was scheduled to leave later Friday for the University of California at San Francisco, said he wants people to understand that he has spoken with a large number of institutions. His staff took the list out of his talking points, he joked. "Is my staff out there? Do you actually have that copy? For real, I'm not joking. ... Because they retyped this ... and I'm sure it's inadvertent but they're fired."
* Biden repeatedly asked members of the panel if data such as the UDP can be better shared. Institutions are "all creating their own additional database. Does that make sense?"
* Sweetenham said it might prove valuable to pull data out of existing systems. Biden said there are "incredibly talented young minds coming out of Silicon Valley and other places" working on the very problem, including two young companies that he did not name.
* Houston, a patient of Buys, wondered if her 37-year-old daughter's breast cancer might have been discovered much earlier with better cooperation between institutions. "Can we take the ego out of it?" she asks.
* After Biden accidentally referred to Mooney as a doctor, he corrected himself and squared himself to her, looking her in the eye and saying he believes it will be discovered that attitude affects the immune system, "and nothing affects the immune system like a nurse. After applause and "Awws," Biden said that every one of the Water Reed National Military Medical Center nurses who helped treat his son, Beau, before his death from brain cancer last year showed up at Beau's funeral. "It matters."
* Stanard said that his father, James, was flown to HCI last May after the discovery of Stage 4c thyroid cancer. He'd been given three weeks to live, the tumor having penetrated his trachea. Doctors determined that surgery would be too invasive, but after intensive radiation and chemotherapy treatments, the tumor shrank about 70 percent. The cancer is not curable, but he "has had tremendous results," Stanard said. He wondered if his father's diagnosis ought to have been made earlier. His thyroid was treated five years earlier, and in the six to 12 months prior, his father, a music professor, had noted that his voice dropped a full octave. Still, doctors never imaged it, he said. "At Stage 3, doctors told us, it's extremely curable."
* Biden attempted to conclude by saying "I almost wish we hadn't used the phrase 'moonshot.' What this is about, we're very level-headed about this," he said. He outlined three areas of emphasis: improving prevention through behaviors like quitting smoking, "precision prevention" using information like medical history that is almost like "prenotification" of cancer, he said, and medical applications of drugs "or using your own immune system" to prevent cancer from appearing.
* A man in the audience who identified as Lacey Harris (check spelling), of the Northern Utes, put in after Biden's remark, "Mr. Vice President, if I may," and said that he was "strongly encouraged by the fact that you started off talking about the native health" and that "I just want to encourage you strongly not to leave us out." Biden told Harris that when Huntsman approached him about including the Institute in the "moonshot" campaign, "the first thing he talked to me about" was underserved populations, and Huntsman specifically mentioned Native Americans. Biden said rural communities like Native American reservations and nations present challenges. "I can appreciate your frustration," he said.
* Huntsman concluded the roundtable — this time for real — by telling Biden that "Politics have been put aside, and every American is behind you."
Salt Lake Tribune