Blog by Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO Michelle K. Lee
Anyone who has held the hand of a friend or family member suffering through chemotherapy and radiation or comforted a friend or colleague dealing with the loss of a loved one understands the savagery of cancer. With a disease that causes such devastation and loss, we are often left feeling alone and with more questions than answers.
During his final State of the Union, President Obama reminded all of us that we are not alone in this fight against cancer, and that if we work together, answers are within our reach. With a nearly $1 billion dollar budget and a commitment to success, the President is committed to doubling the rate of progress in cancer research and treatment.
The President’s “Cancer Moonshot” initiative is not an endeavor that one person or one institution can accomplish in isolation. Such a herculean goal requires, as Vice President Biden opined, “… the need for more team science and increased collaboration among the private sector, academia, patient foundations, and the government.” Working together through public and private partnerships, we can overcome the many barriers that currently impede progress towards treatment and we can identify where resources can be more strategically included to foster and advance solutions.
The USPTO is proud to join this team of allies in the President’s effort to refocus, reinvent, and reprioritize the fight to cure cancer. As “America’s Innovation Agency,” it fits squarely in our mission to contribute to this massive and just cause. And, in collaboration with the Vice President’s office, we are excited to unveil two major projects to support the National Cancer Moonshot.
To start, we are implementing a free initiative in July called Patents 4 Patients that will “fast-track” reviews of patent applications related to cancer treatment. The goal of this accelerated program is to complete review of applications that are accepted into the program in one year or less after they are received. The sooner we can identify and patent these innovations, the closer we are to a cure.
In addition to this “fast-track” program, we will unveil an Intellectual Property (IP) “Horizon Scanning Tool”. This tool will allow the public and the federal government to analyze and build rich visualizations of intellectual property data, often an early indicator of meaningful R&D. When combined with other economic and funding data (such as Security and Exchange Commission filings, FDA reports and National Science Foundation grants), the Horizon Scanning Tool can illuminate trend lines for new treatments and allow federal funding and policy efforts to be more targeted.
President Kennedy’s revolutionary moonshot challenge to the American people more than 50 years ago was a galvanizing call to collective action to achieve a worthwhile yet potentially unattainable goal in a very short period of time. That historic call to action echoes today.
President Obama recognizes that data and technology innovators can play a role in revolutionizing how medical and research data are shared and used to reach new breakthroughs. Innovations in data and technology can break down silos and bring all the cancer fighters together. Working together and sharing information, we can provide hope to the more than 1.6 million Americans who will be diagnosed with cancer this year.
It is my desire that we also inspire a new generation of scientists to pursue new discoveries. I am proud of the part the USPTO will play in this most worthwhile effort, and I count as well on your strong support.
With the leadership of President Obama and under the guidance of Vice President Biden, we can make a difference and we can change the future so that upcoming generations do not have to experience the same pain that cancer has caused over the last decades.
For information and updates on how the USPTO is advancing President Obama’s call for a Cancer Moonshot, please visit www.uspto.gov/about-us/national-cancer-moonshot.