Dr. Norman E. Sharpless, director of UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, has been nominated to lead the National Cancer Institute, the largest division of the National Institutes of Health, the Trump administration announced over the weekend.
Ned Sharpless is a practicing oncologist specializing in leukemia and leads a research group that studies the cell cycle and its role in cancer and aging. The White House said he has authored more than 150 scientific papers, reviews and book chapters. Sharpless serves on the Association of American Cancer Institutes' board of directors, and on the National Institute of Aging's National Advisory Council on Aging.
Sharpless will replace Dr. Douglas Lowy, who has been acting director of NCI since April 2015.
This puts two UNC-Chapel Hill medical school alumni at the top of NIH. NIH Director Francis Collins also is an alumnus and did his residency in Chapel Hill at North Carolina Memorial Hospital. Collins said he was pleased by Sharpless' nomination.
"I've known Dr. Sharpless professionally for many years as an outstanding scientist, clinician, and administrator, and we are very fortunate to have him join the NIH leadership team," Collins said in a blog post.
The Trump administration's first budget proposed to cut the NIH budget by $5.8 billion, including a $1 billion cut to the NCI. However, lawmakers have disagreed with Trump, boosting NCI's funding by $476 million for the current fiscal year after the president unveiled his budget.