The Biden Cancer Initiative did not fund cancer research. Rather, it tried to harness the Bidens’ “convening” power to prod researchers, companies and patient groups to collaborate and move faster to improve data sharing, clinical trials and cancer-care accessibility, Greg Simon, the group’s president, said in an interview.
The Bidens stepped down as the group’s co-chairs and members of the board of directors on April 25 — the day that Biden announced he was running for president.
Without them at the helm, Simon said, it was difficult for the organization to maintain the visibility and financial support needed to continue.
The Biden Foundation, another group created by the couple after Biden left the White House, suspended operations on the day he announced he was entering the race. The Bidens used that charity to highlight other issues they were interested in — such as college affordability and ending violence against women.
The Biden Cancer Initiative did not accept funding from companies or from individuals involved in the pharmaceutical industry, Simon said.
But the group did work closely with for-profit firms to encourage their participation in efforts to fight cancer. At a conference last fall, for example, the Biden Cancer Initiative announced dozens of commitments from various companies — such as one by Airbnb to provide free lodging to cancer patients receiving treatment.
The Associated Press last month raised questions about whether the initiative’s relationships with companies could pose ethical issues if Biden were to become president. Simon dismissed the idea, saying that “none of the corporate commitments benefited our organization.”