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University Gazette

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Trump appoints UNC Lineberger’s Sharpless as National Cancer Institute director

Norman E. “Ned” Sharpless, the director of UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center and the Wellcome Distinguished Professor in Cancer Research, has been named the director of the National Cancer Institute (NCI).

President Donald Trump named Sharpless to the position on June 10. The appointment doesn’t require Senate confirmation.

He succeeds Douglas Lowy, who has served as acting director of the NCI since April 2015.

William Roper, dean of the School of Medicine, has appointed H. Shelton “Shelley” Earp to serve as interim director of Lineberger. Earp served as director of the cancer center from 1997-2014 and currently is the director of UNC Cancer Care, which coordinates cancer care and clinical research across the School of Medicine, UNC and UNC Health Care System.

Sharpless, who has served as director of Lineberger since January 2014, is internationally recognized for his research into how normal cells age and undergo malignant conversion.  His lab has extensively studied the interaction and regulation of the p16INK4a tumor suppressor and the proliferative CDK4/6 kinases in aging and cancer. Sharpless is also is an attending hematologist oncologist at N.C. Cancer Hospital, Lineberger’s clinical home.

“Dr. Sharpless is a visionary leader and a truly gifted scientist and clinician, and we strongly agree he would be an excellent choice to lead the National Cancer Institute into the future,” Chancellor Carol L. Folt said.

A native of Greensboro, Sharpless was a Morehead-Cain Scholar at Carolina who earned his undergraduate degree in mathematics (with distinction) and his medical degree (with honors and distinction) 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. He returned to Chapel Hill to accept a faculty appointment at Lineberger in 2002.