March 13 (UPI) -- Former Vice President Joe Biden called the fight against cancer the United States' last bipartisan issue in his return to the public stage at the South by Southwest Festival in Austin, Texas.
Biden was the keynote speaker Sunday at the annual gathering of art and technology leaders and innovators. In an impassioned address stressing hope and collaboration, he said the festival convenes "some of the most creative minds in the world" in a synergy vital to dealing with cancer treatment and prevention.
"The only bipartisan thing left in America is the fight against cancer," he said in explaining his work with the Cancer Initiative, a program following the White House Moonshot Task Force Biden led as vice president.
The task force prompted new collaborations in exploring cancer treatments, such as one between NASA and the National Cancer Institute.
The desire to defeat cancer is a personal mission for Biden; his son Beau Biden died of brain cancer in May 2015 at age 46.
Of his choice not to run for president in 2016, Biden said, "I would have loved to be the president the presided over the end of cancer as we know it."
He noted that the bulk of funding for cancer research is from the government "which many of you don't like," specifically the 21st Century Cures Act, which was passed in December and dedicates $1.8 billion, over seven years, to cancer research.
"I'm confident that the new administration, once it gets organized, and I'm not being facetious, will be as enthusiastic of ending cancer as we know it."
After the speech, Biden traveled to the University of Delaware, his alma mater, for the launch of the Biden Institute on Monday. The institute, part of the university's School of Public Policy and Administration, is a new research and policy center focused on domestic issues including economic reform, environmental sustainability, criminal justice and civil rights.