National Cancer Institute head named acting FDA commissioner

March 12, 2019

Norman “Ned” Sharpless, MD, has been appointed acting FDA commissioner following the announcement by current FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb, MD, that he will resign his post shortly.

Norman “Ned” Sharpless, MD, has been appointed acting FDA commissioner following the announcement by current FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb, MD, that he will resign his post shortly. Sharpless is director of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) at the National Institutes of Health. He is set to take the reins at FDA in early April.

Sharpless has served as director of NCI since October 2017, having previously served as the director of the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of North Carolina. “Dr. Sharpless has made seminal contributions to the understanding of the relationship between aging and cancer, and in the preclinical development of novel therapeutics for melanoma, lung cancer, and breast cancer," states his NCI biography.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar announced Sharpless’s appointment in front of the House Committee on Energy & Commerce during a hearing about President Trump’s 2020 budget requests related to HHS.

Gottlieb also commented on Sharpless’s appointment, stating on Twitter that “FDA will benefit greatly from his leadership” and that Sharpless “is a friend to FDA, a great public health champion, a dedicated physician, and will be warmly welcomed into his new role.”