Healio Special Report: Health Care and Politics
Healio Special Report: Health Care and Politics
March 12, 2019
2 min read

National Cancer Institute director named acting FDA commissioner

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Norman E. "Ned" Sharpless
Scott Gottlieb 
Scott Gottlieb

Norman E. “Ned” Sharpless, MD, director of National Cancer Institute, will replace resigning FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb, MD, according to a tweet from Gottlieb.

“I’m delighted by the announcement from [HHS Secretary Alex Azar] that [Sharpless] will serve as acting commissioner of FDA. Ned is a friend to FDA, a great public health champion, a dedicated physician, and will be warmly welcomed into his new role. FDA will benefit greatly from his leadership,” the tweet read.

The announcement was also confirmed by HHS' public affairs office. 

Sharpless has served as National Cancer Institute director since 2017, when he was selected by President Donald J. Trump to fill the position. Sharpless — recognized for his research into how normal cells age and undergo malignant conversion — has also been director of University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, the Wellcome Distinguished Professor in Cancer Research, and an attending hematologist–oncologist at The N.C. Cancer Hospital.

The Cancer Action Network, part of the American Cancer Society, applauded the announcement.

“Dr. Sharpless has demonstrated extraordinary leadership at [National Cancer Institute] and has been a strong ally in the fight against cancer. While his vision and direct engagement with the cancer community will be sorely missed at NCI, Dr. Sharpless is well-positioned to lead the FDA forward along with Secretary Azar,” Lisa Lacasse, president of the network, said in a statement.

“With his exceptional perspective and experience in cancer research, Dr. Sharpless will be able to continue FDA’s work prioritizing the review and approval of innovative therapies that have the potential to cure diseases like cancer. It will also be vital that Dr. Sharpless advance and implement policies previously endorsed by outgoing-Commissioner Gottlieb aimed at curtailing the soaring rates of youth tobacco use, especially e-cigarettes,” she added.

Gottlieb announced his resignation last week. Multiple reports suggest he wanted to spend more time with his family.

Healio’s Health Care and Politics Resource Center includes the latest news on health care laws, proposals, regulations and policies in the United States and how they are likely to affect clinicians and patient care. In addition, this page features expert opinions on the impact of health care reform on clinical practice across a wide range of specialties. Be sure to bookmark the page for future reference. – by Janel Miller

Disclosures: Gottlieb is commissioner of the FDA.