Nixon National Cancer Conference Announces
Honorary Congressional Committee and Honorary Host Committee
on 50th Anniversary of President Nixon’s
Proposal to Establish a National Cancer Program

Three former NCI Directors to serve on the Honorary Host Committee

May 11, 2021 — Fifty years ago today, on May 11, 1971, President Nixon issued a White House statement proposing legislation to establish a National Cancer Program, a key element of which became the National Cancer Institute.

“Cancer has become one of mankind’s deadliest and most elusive enemies. The conquest of cancer is one of the most important efforts of our time,” the President’s statement read.

He continued: “Our capacities for efficient management were instrumental in our efforts to split the atom and travel to the moon. Now we need to apply those same capacities to the conquest of cancer.”

Later that year in December 1971, President Nixon signed the National Cancer Act into law.

On December 1 and 2, 2021, to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of that landmark legislation, the Richard Nixon Foundation will host the Nixon National Cancer Conference at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum in Yorba Linda, California. The two-day meeting of experts will examine the past, present and future of cancer treatment and research.

The Honorary Congressional Committee of the Nixon National Cancer Conference includes five members of Congress who sit on committees of interest to the National Cancer Institute:

  • Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO), Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Labor, HHS, Education and Related Agencies
  • Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO 1st District), Member of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce
  • Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT 3rd District), Chair of the House Appropriations Committee
  • Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC 5th District), Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Related Agencies
  • Senator Rob Portman (R-OH), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs

The Honorary Host Committee of the Nixon National Cancer Conference includes three former Directors of the National Cancer Institute:

  • Samuel Broder, M.D., Director of the National Cancer Institute (1989 to 1995)
  • Vincent DeVita, M.D., President of the American Cancer Society (2012-2013) and Director of the National Cancer Institute (1980-1988)
  • Andrew von Eschenbach, Commissioner of the United States Food and Drug Administration (2006–2009) and Director of the National Cancer Institute

In addition to:

  • Otis Brawley, M.D., Bloomberg Distinguished Professor of Oncology and Epidemiology at Johns Hopkins University
  • Robert A. Ingram, Founding Chairman of the CEO Roundtable on Cancer
  • Claire Pomeroy, M.D., President of the Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation

The members of the Honorary Committees are part of the planning and leadership team of the Nixon National Cancer Conference, chaired by Dr. von Eschenbach, with co-chairs:

  • Paul Begala, political commentator and campaign adviser
  • James H. Cavanaugh, Ph.D., Chairman of the Nixon Foundation Board of Trustees, former President of Allergan International and Chairman of the Shire Pharmaceutical Group PLC
  • Melanie Eisenhower, MS, CCLS, pediatric oncology counselor at UPENN Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia; granddaughter of President Nixon and great-granddaughter of President Eisenhower
  • Marlene Malek, co-founder of Friends of Cancer Research
  • Ellen Sigal, Ph.D., co-founder and chairperson of Friends of Cancer Research

The National Cancer Act was passed with bipartisan support and broke new ground by allocating federal funds for research and treatment of one specific disease. It was signed by President Nixon on December 23, 1971.