National Cancer Institute Director Ned Sharpless named temporary replacement to lead FDA

FDA Building
National Cancer Institute Director Ned Sharpless, M.D., will be named the acting commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration in early April. (FDA)

National Cancer Institute Director Ned Sharpless, M.D., will be named the acting commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration in early April.

During his opening statements before the House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee hearing on Tuesday, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar announced the selection of the interim replacement for FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb. Gottlieb announced his plans to resign from the role last week.

Under Gottlieb's leadership, the agency has taken on the implementation of the new Right to Try law, sought to address high prescription drug prices, pursued tactics to combat the opioid epidemic and led efforts combat teen vaping.

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The FDA is in the process for searching for a permanent FDA Commissioner. Douglas Lowy, M.D., NCI's deputy director, will serve as acting director of the institute.

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"There will be no let-up in the agency’s focus, from ongoing efforts on drug approvals and combating the opioid crisis to modernizing food safety and addressing the rapid rise in youth use of e-cigarettes," Azar said in his statement.

Sharpless has served as NCI director since June 2017 and is formerly the director of the University of North Carolina Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center

He is a native of Greensboro, N.C., and received his Bachelors in mathematics from UNC-Chapel Hill and his medical degree from the UNC School of Medicine. He completed his residency training at Massachusetts General Hospital and his clinical and research fellowship in hematology and oncology at Dana-Farber/Partners Cancer Care in Boston.

"It will be an honor to advance the FDA’s critical public health mission and build on its progress toward the priorities laid out by President Trump, Secretary Azar, and Commissioner Gottlieb alongside the leadership and staff of the agency," Sharpless said in a statement. 


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