Two-day meeting of experts December 1-2 will examine past, present and future of cancer treatment and research

Chaired by Former National Cancer Institute Director and FDA Commissioner

Dr. Andrew von Eschenbach

YORBA LINDA, CA  — NOVEMBER 10, 2021 — The Richard Nixon Foundation will host the Nixon National Cancer Conference at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum in Yorba Linda, California, on December 1 and 2, 2021.  

Fifty years ago this December, the Nixon cancer initiative —which was enacted into law with bipartisan support— broke new ground by proposing increased federal funding for research and treatment of one specific disease. President Nixon signed the National Cancer Act of 1971 at a ceremony in the White House East Room on December 23, 1971. He said, “I hope in the years ahead we will look back on this action today as the most significant action taken during my Administration.”  

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of this visionary and transformative bipartisan legislation, the Richard Nixon Foundation will host a two-day gathering of distinguished Nobel laureates, cancer center directors, clinicians, researchers, and political and public health officials to assess the past, analyze the present, and envision the future of cancer treatment and research.

The conference will be chaired by Dr. Andrew von Eschenbach, who was Director of the National Cancer Institute from 2001-2005, and Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration from 2006-2009.  

“I am honored to Chair this celebration in gratitude for President Nixon’s visionary leadership. Throughout my career at MD Anderson Cancer Center I witnessed the transformational progress in research and advances in the care of cancer patients that was made possible by the provisions of the National Cancer Act of 1971,” von Esenbach said.

The conference will open with a reception and dinner to include keynote remarks on December 1st at 5:00 p.m. PST followed by panel discussions and a luncheon with keynote remarks on December 2nd, starting at 9:00 a.m. PST. The panels will cover the past, the present, and the future of cancer treatment and research.

The first panel, The National Cancer Act – Discovering Cancer’s Secrets, features: 

  • Nobel laureate, James P. Allison, Ph.D.
  • Nobel laureate, David Baltimore, Ph.D.
  • Nobel laureate, Phillip Sharp, Ph.D.
  • Andrew von Esenbach, Former National Cancer Institute Director

The second panel, The National Cancer Act – Saving Lives, From Hopelessness to Hope, features:

  • Madeline Bell, President and CEO of Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
  • Stephan A. Grupp, M.D., Ph.D., Section Chief of the Cellular Therapy and Transplant Section at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
  • Lori Pierce, M.D., President of the American Society of Clinical Oncology and Professor at University of Michigan Medicine
  • Peter Pisters, M.D., President of the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
  • Vincent DeVita Jr, M.D., Former National Cancer Institute Director

The third panel, The National Cancer Act – Changing the Future of Cancer, features:

  • Stephen Hahn, M.D., Chief Medical Officer at Flagship Pioneering/Moderna and Former Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration
  • William W. Li, M.D., New York Times Bestselling author of Eat to Beat Disease
  • Anna Barker, Ph.D., Former National Cancer Institute Deputy Director

Those who would like to attend in person can register here

The full conference will be streamed live on YouTube here.

As part of the anniversary commemoration, the Nixon Library will open a new special exhibition, “A Commitment to Hope: Richard Nixon and the National Cancer Act,” set to remain on display through March of 2022. Admission to the exhibition is included with regular Nixon Library admission. 

Visitors to the exhibit will get an up-close view of that decisive moment 50 years ago when the U.S. government took action to develop a “cancure” and its amazing —indeed, miraculous— results. 

With artifacts never before exhibited on loan from cancer centers across the country, visitors will trace the arc of how the fight to conquer cancer continues to transform and evolve, including life saving advances in prevention, detection, and treatment of cancer. 


This conference is open to press. To request media credentials, please contact:

Joe Lopez

[email protected]