Lineberger Center Director to Step Down

Shelley Earp. Photo: UNC Health

Shelton “Shelley” Earp ’70 (MD, ’72 MS) plans to step down as director of the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center in June 2024, University leaders announced this week.

Earp, who has served as director since 2018, was the center’s director from 1997 to 2014. He has been a member of the UNC School of Medicine faculty since 1977. Earp will continue working as Distinguished Professor of cancer research, medicine and pharmacology.

Ned Sharpless, who served as director of the center from 2014 to 2018, will lead the national search for Earp’s successor.

Under Earp’s leadership, Lineberger has become a leading cancer research hub that connects faculty across UNC and beyond. He’s initiated partnerships with other UNC System institutions, including N.C. State University, N.C. Central University, N.C. A&T State University and East Carolina University, according to University news reports.

The N.C Basnight Cancer Hospital, clinical home of UNC, is ranked as the top cancer center in the state and among the top 30 nationwide.

Earp’s lab researches new therapeutic options to treat various cancers, including breast, lung, pancreatic and prostate, as well as leukemias and melanoma. He is co-founder of Meryx, an oncology-focused biopharmaceutical company founded in 2013 and based in Chapel Hill, and holds patents on certain tumor cell inhibitors.

This year, Earp was recognized with the O. Max Gardner Award, the  UNC System’s Board of Governors highest faculty award, which honors faculty who’ve “made the greatest contribution to the welfare of the human race,” according to the BOG.

Wesley Burks, CEO of UNC Health and dean of the UNC School of Medicine, said Earp “has helped bring world-class clinician-scientists and researchers together to answer so many complex questions in the field of cancer research and treatment. Our mission is to improve the health and well-being of the people of North Carolina, and Shelley’s work has done that.”

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