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Sharpless Takes Oath to Head National Cancer Institute

Dr. Ned Sharpless ’88

Dr. Ned Sharpless ’88 (’93 MD) was sworn in as the 15th director of the National Cancer Institute. (UNC Lineberger photo)

Dr. Norman E. “Ned” Sharpless ’88 (’93 MD) was sworn in as the 15th director of the National Cancer Institute on Tuesday. Sharpless served as director of UNC’s Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center from January 2014 to June 2017.

“Dr. Sharpless is an outstanding scientist, clinician and administrator, and we are very fortunate to have him join the NIH leadership team,” said National Institutes of Health Director Dr. Francis S. Collins, who earned his medical degree from UNC in 1977. “I look forward to his insight, influence and partnership at NCI, as cancer research is experiencing an unprecedented era of rapid progress.”

Sharpless is internationally recognized for his research into how normal cells age and undergo malignant conversion. He also was an attending hematologist oncologist at N.C. Cancer Hospital, Lineberger’s clinical home.

A native of Greensboro, Sharpless was a Morehead-Cain Scholar at Carolina. 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 Lineberger faculty appointment in 2002.

“I cannot think of a better choice to lead the National Cancer Institute,” said Lineberger’s interim director, said Dr. Shelley Earp ’70 (MD, ’72 MS), the Lineberger Professor of Cancer Research and director of UNC Cancer Care. “Ned brings a remarkable combination of a probing scientific mind and clinical and administrative leadership. He cares about patients and their families and will serve the nation’s top cancer agency with distinction.”

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