Top US Cancer Institute announces new leadership as director

President Joe Biden will have the opportunity to announce the name of the new head of US efforts to fight cancer. Norman “Ned” Sharpless, director of the $ 6.9 billion National Cancer Institute (NCI) since the end of 2017, announced today that he will resign at the end of April after nearly five years of service.

Sharpless’s announcement has shocked many in the cancer research community. “I was shocked and disappointed,” said Harold Vermas, a cancer virologist at Weil Colonel Medicine, a former director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) who preceded Sharpless as head of the NCI. “We will miss him,” said Ashani Birratna, a cancer biologist at Johns Hopkins University who serves on the NCI’s National Cancer Advisory Board.

The NCI director holds an unusually politically prominent position. Unlike the directors of the other 26 NIH organizations, who are elected by the NIH directors, the NCI chief must be chosen by the president. And where the annual budgets of other organizations go through the office of the NIH director, the NCI submits an ambitious budget proposal directly to the President.

It is unknown at this time what he will do after leaving the post. Nevertheless, observers credited Sharpless for managing the NCI through a turbulent time. Before then-President Donald Trump hired a physician studying aging and cancer to lead the NCI in 2017, Sharpless directed the Linberger Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of North Carolina. His basic and translational research experience and moderate political leanings (donated by Sharpless Democrats) have come as a relief to scientists who worry that Trump will make an unconventional choice.

His term was “complicated,” Vermas said, referring to Sharpless himself The Washington Post. In 2019, 1.5 years after his arrival at the NCI, he left for 7 months as acting head of the US Food and Drug Administration. Returning to the NCI just before the epidemic began in early 2020, he oversaw the NCI’s role in developing COVID-19 tests and highlighted the disadvantages of missed cancer screening.

The Childhood Cancer Data Initiative is a sharp calculation of its main achievements, a planned 10-year, $ 50 million per year project to share data on Trump’s proposed pediatric tumor. In the wake of George Floyd’s death, he pushed for advocacy of health inequality and diversity in the cancer research workforce.

He also worked to transfer funds to investigator-initiated grants to increase the success rate of NCI grants, the lowest among NIH’s largest institutes due to the increase in the number of applications over the years.

Said Sharpless Post He is returning to his family in North Carolina, where his wife is an endocrinologist and his elderly mother. He has no other position yet, but he is hoping to return to the academy.

“It’s great to be successful,” Vermas said [at NCI] By someone as good as Ned. “He credits Sharpless for” paying attention to all the right things. “

Sharpless has “done a great job in a difficult time,” said Ellen Seagal, founder and chair of Friends of Cancer, an advocacy group.

David Teweson, director of the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Cancer Center and president of the American Association for Cancer Research, added, “Ned’s vision and enthusiasm will be greatly missed.”

Sharpless is leaving just as Biden has “re-enlightened” the cancer munshot, the program he created as vice president in 2016, with a new goal of halving cancer mortality in 25 years. Biden’s 2023 budget proposal does not give the NCI any new funding for Munsht. Instead, the NCI will receive a 3% cut and almost all of the proposed বৃদ্ধ 4.3 billion increase for the NIH will go to a new component, advanced research project agency for health, for high-risk, sophisticated projects.

Now, Biden will have the opportunity to name the next NCI director, who will face the task of shaping the role of the Institute in these initiatives. The White House has not met its selection deadline, and has yet to fill the role of NIH director, zero since Francis Collins resigned in December 2021. Inquiry.) Meanwhile, NCI Principal Deputy Director Douglas Lowe will serve as the Acting Director of the Institute.

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