Baltimore Leaders Got Some Serious Obama Administration Face Time on Tuesday

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President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden ride in the motorcade from the White House to the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington, D.C., July 21, 2010, to sign the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.  (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza) This official White House photograph is being made available only for publication by news organizations and/or for personal use printing by the subject(s) of the photograph. The photograph may not be manipulated in any way and may not be used in commercial or political materials, advertisements, emails, products, promotions that in any way suggests approval or endorsement of the President, the First Family, or the White House.
(Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Baltimore is definitely still on the White House’s radar. On Tuesday, the city’s health commissioner was on a panel with the president, and VP Joe Biden came to Baltimore for the dedication of a new cancer research center at Johns Hopkins.

Biden’s afternoon visit marked the announcement of a new research center dedicated to immunotherapy. At the dedication, the vice president talked about his personal desire to fight that disease that claimed his son, Beau. He said one of the few regrets of his decision not to run for president this year was that it meant he wouldn’t be the president who oversaw the eradication of the disease. Then, the president named Biden as the head of a “moonshot” effort to cure the disease.

“Over the next 10 years, hopefully five in my view, because of this generous $125 million gift, this institute is going to perfect new therapies, and help bring hope to millions of patients and their families,” Biden said during his speech. He opened by deadpanning, “My name is Joe Biden, and I work for Barbara Mikulski.”

Biden also now has a bench with his likeness on campus, Hopkins president Ronald Daniels said.

Researchers at the Bloomberg-Kimmel Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy will focus on addressing cancer through treatments that harness a person’s own immune system to fight cancer cells. Hopkins researchers are already on the cutting edge of the field, and the institute will step up those efforts and bring researchers under one banner, Daniels said. Famed Blue Jay Michael Bloomberg, who gave $50 million for the institute through his foundation, was also onhand for the announcement.

“Unlike the first moonshot, which was a government-funded initiative, this is a true partnership between government, the private sector and philanthropic institution,” he said.

Given the former New York City mayor’s own flirtation with the 2016 presidential race, he couldn’t resist acknowledging the fact that the event was headlined by two almost-rans.

“We considered a joint ticket but we couldn’t decide if it would be reverse or straight alphabetical order,” Bloomberg said of himself and Biden.

Obama, Wen Talk Heroin

While his lieutenant talked about health innovation in Baltimore, the city’s health Commissioner Leana Wen was talking with the Commander in Chief. Leana Wen was among the guests speaking with Barack Obama on a panel about the nation’s heroin epidemic at the National Rx Drug Abuse and Heroin Summit in Atlanta.

According to a release from the city, she talked about Baltimore’s approach to addressing addiction.

“We recognize that treating addiction as a crime is unscientific, inhumane, and ineffective. Addiction is a disease, treatment exists, and we all must play a role in preventing addiction and saving lives in our communities,” she said.


Stephen Babcock

Stephen Babcock is the editor of Baltimore and an editor-at-large of Baltimore Fishbowl.

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