May 26, 2022

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National Cancer Institute Director Norman “Ned” Sharpless resigns

National Cancer Institute Director Norman "Ned" Sharpless resigns

Sharpless, 55, said in an interview that he had “very mixed feelings” about leaving, because he enjoyed his position at the National Cancer Institute and the Food and Drug Administration. But he said his stint as a senior federal health official was “extremely turbulent,” mostly due to the fun but stressful work the coronavirus pandemic has brought about, including the National Cancer Institute’s role in helping with the assessment. Corona virus tests.

“Your time in government should be measured in dog years,” Sharpless said.

Sharpless was an ancient researcher who researched the relationship between cancer and aging Director From the University of North Carolina Leinberger Comprehensive Cancer Center before Join NCI In October 2017.

He said he wants to return to Chapel Hill to spend more time with his wife, an endocrinologist, and other family members, including his 89-year-old mother. He said he won’t move on to another job but expects at some point to return to academia.

As the nation’s top cancer doctor, Sharpless was optimistic about progress against the disease, and he praised President Biden. “Moon Shots” Relaunched Against Cancer, which aims to halve the country’s cancer death rate within 25 years.

“Making cancer less deadly and a disease more controllable is possible,” he said, adding that he believed deaths could be reduced significantly, especially among young and healthy people. But to achieve such steps, the nation needs widespread improvements in clinical trials, increased data collection and sharing, and increased prevention and screening.

Sharpless has repeatedly warned of the adverse effects of the pandemic, noting that millions of people have missed routine cancer screening tests or are late in getting treatment. NCI modeling suggests having a file 5,000 to 10,000 additional people could die from breast cancer within the next decade due to epidemic-related delays and poor prognosis, he said, urging adults To resume offers.

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Cancer death rates have decreased significantly since 1990, due in large part to a sharp drop in smoking but also due to new treatments, including immunotherapies that help the immune system “see” and fight cancer. However, about 1.9 million new cancer cases and more than 609,000 cancer deaths are expected in the United States this year, according to the American Cancer Society.

These continuing losses have led some critics to argue that the nation needs new strategies to defeat cancer that focus less on finding breakthroughs and more on increasing prevention, improving quality of care, and reducing the toxic effects of treatments. Carrie B Gross, MD, professor of medicine at Yale University School of Medicine, Wrote The Hill reports that governments should take more steps to reduce smoking and increase vaccination against HPV, which causes cervical cancer and other types of cancer.

The departure of the director of the National Cancer Institute comes as the Biden administration grapples with a highly uncertain future dominated by a pandemic that may be in the process of easing — or may be in a temporary lull. Efforts are complicated by a slew of recent personnel changes.

In December, Francis Collins step down Director of the National Institutes of Health after 12 years. In February, Eric Lander, Biden’s chief scientific adviser, whose office is taking the lead in restarting the cancer rocket launch, Resigned after confession ‘disrespectful and degrading’ Affiliate treatment. Collins recently took a temporary position as Biden’s senior science advisor.

White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Jeff Zentes will leave his job this month and will leave replacing Written by epidemiologist Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health.

In another development around cancer research, Congress recently funded a new Health Advanced Research Projects Agency, one of Biden’s priorities. The new agency will try to accelerate progress in serious diseases, including cancer, Alzheimer’s disease and heart disease.

among cancer specialists and patients, The new agency generates mixed views. Some are concerned that ARPA-H, as it is known, will withdraw funding from the Cancer Institute, Others say it would be smarter than the NCI at addressing high-risk research. Biden’s budget proposal for the following fiscal year required a small cut in funding for the National Cancer Institute and billions for the new agency.

Sharpless said the moves around the new agency did not affect his decision to leave and that he believed ARPA-H could be beneficial if it was given flexibility in contracting, staffing and other rules that sometimes slowed government bureaucracies, and if it coordinated with the Cancer Institute.

After leading the Cancer Institute for a year and a half, Sharpless moved to the Food and Drug Administration in April 2019 as acting chair after Scott Gottlieb resigned as commissioner. After the Trump administration nominated Anderson Cancer Center Director Stephen Han To be the FDA commissioner, Sharpless returned to running the National Cancer Institute.

“Ned has had a profound impact across two agencies, during a period when cancer treatment underwent major advances and we faced a generational epidemic,” Gottlieb said. Sharpless has been credited with the NCI’s role in helping validate and form diagnostic tests for the coronavirus How “researchers have embraced the new field of immunotherapies.”

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Sharpless said he’s proud of his efforts in treating childhood cancer, including securing an additional $50 million annually over a decade to ramp up research.

“My thinking has evolved here,” he said.

“I’m an adult oncologist and I kind of thought this was a case where American progress was satisfactory,” he said, referring to childhood cancer.

But his views have changed and he now believes that better treatments are urgently needed. He noted that although childhood cancer is rare, patients often develop medical problems later in life, including second malignancies, from toxic treatments.

The NCI Children’s Cancer Initiative focuses on sharing data between children’s hospitals, clinics and networks to try to accelerate ways to improve children’s care.

Sharpless has also lobbied to increase grants to investigators who have faced stiff competition in the past decade. He said increasing the share of apps that the National Cancer Institute can fund is a slow but ongoing process. Sharpless also created the National Cancer Institute’s Equity and Inclusion Program to develop a more diverse cancer workforce and reduce health disparities.

In a statement, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, Xavier Becerra, praised Sharpless’s work on the response to the pandemic and its efforts to “reduce the negative effects of the pandemic on people with cancer.”

Sharpless’s last day as NCI Director is April 29. Douglas R. Lowe, Senior Vice President at NCI, will serve as acting director.

“I think he was a great director and a hard scientist,” said Elaine Segal, founder and president of Friends of Cancer Research, a nonprofit advocacy group who understood patients’ needs and the responsibilities of being the director of the National Cancer Institute.