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Biden, Bloomberg announce $125M gift for new cancer institute at Hopkins

Vice President Joe Biden and former New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg announced Tuesday a $125 million gift to create a new cancer institute at Johns Hopkins Medicine. (Amy Davis/Baltimore Sun Video)

Vice President Joe Biden joined former New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg Tuesday to announce a $125 million gift to create an institute at Johns Hopkins Medicine focused solely on promising immunotherapy research to cure cancer.

Immunotherapy is a key component of the Obama administration's "Moonshot" initiative to cure cancer, which Biden is leading. Obama wants finding a cure for cancer to be as big as when the first man walked on the moon. Cancer specialists believe immunotherapy, a treatment which prompts the body's immune systems to target and kill cancer cells, has the most promising path.

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"If we can harness this moment, I believe we can make quantum leaps in curing cancer," said Biden, who lost his oldest son to cancer last year and has made it a personal mission to push for a cure.

Beau Biden, the vice president's eldest son, died last May at age 46 from brain cancer. The vice president has made it a personal mission to push efforts to find a cure. He has toured top cancer centers around the country as part of the "Moonshot" effort. He called curing cancer a bipartisan issue and said he is confident that Congress will fund the $1 billion Obama has requested for research.

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Bloomberg, a Hopkins alum who has given generously to his alma mater over the years, donated $50 million to the effort that will be called the Bloomberg~Kimmel Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy. Jones Apparel Group founder and the namesake of Hopkins' Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center, also contributed $50 million. The remaining $25 million for the center was donated by more than a dozen other supporters.

Bloomberg praised Biden for his commitment to the issue.

"The vice president is determined to turn that tragedy to a positive for other families and we are here to stand with him," he said.

Gov. Larry Hogan, who was diagnosed and treated with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma early in his term but says he's now cancer-free, was also on hand along with members of the state's congressional delegation and local elected officials. Hogan praised the potential of Hopkins' new venture.

"Over the past year I have come to appreciate and understand the work of facilities like this in ways that I could have never imagined," he said.

Bloomberg said there is more promise than ever to finding a cure.

"We still have a ways to go... and a cure won't come overnight," he said. "But we have turned a corner."

Twitter.com/ankwalker

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