Joe Biden Gets New Assignment to Lead Fight Against Cancer in SOTU

PHOTO: Vice President Joe Biden arrives before the State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, Jan. 12, 2016.PlayEvan Vucci, Pool/AP Photo
WATCH Obama Calls on Biden to Lead Fight Against Cancer

Vice President Joe Biden appeared surprised at getting a shout out -- and new assignment -- during tonight's State of the Union.

President Obama singled out the fight to cure cancer as one of the goals of his administration in its final year.

While avoiding going into specifics about the venture, the one detail he did announce was that Biden -- who lost his son Beau to brain cancer last year -- would be heading up the venture.

"Tonight, I’m announcing a new national effort to get it done. And because he’s gone to the mat for all of us, on so many issues over the past forty years, I’m putting Joe in charge of Mission Control," Obama said.

Though there was no microphone in front of Biden as he sat behind the President during the speech, the vice president appeared surprised at the mention and appeared to say something to Speaker Paul Ryan, sitting at his left.

He appeared to say "I didn't know that," going on to clarify that he "did not" know about the announcement ahead of time.

President Obama then turned around and asked, "What do you say, Joe?" and Biden smiled and said yes.

PHOTO: President Barack Obama shakes hands with House Speaker Paul Ryan as Vice President Joe Biden watches before the State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, Jan. 12, 2016. Evan Vucci/AP Photo
President Barack Obama shakes hands with House Speaker Paul Ryan as Vice President Joe Biden watches before the State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, Jan. 12, 2016.

Biden's connection to cancer and determination to cure the disease is a personal one, as his son Beau Biden died after a battle with brain cancer.

When the Vice President announced in October that he would not be running for president in 2016, he mentioned how he believes the end of the disease could come soon.

"I'm going to spend the next 15 months in this office pushing as hard as I can to accomplish this," Biden said during that speech. "Because I know there are Democrats and Republicans on the Hill who share our passion -- our passion to silence this deadly disease. If I could be anything, I would want it to be the President that ended cancer, because it’s possible."

A post on Biden's verified Medium account detailed the way in which he would fight for advances in the field.

The post highlights two first steps that Biden says he plans to address, starting with increased public and private resources followed by breaking "down silos and bring all the cancer fighters together—to work together, to share information, and end cancer as we know it."