National Cancer Institute head Dr. Norman Sharpless will serve as acting commissioner of the FDA, according to a statement from HHS Secretary Alex Azar.
Though he has yet to be formally nominated, the move will likely position Sharpless as an official successor to Dr. Scott Gottlieb, who is slated to depart in April.
“Ned is a friend to FDA, a great public health champion, a dedicated physician, and will be warmly welcomed into his new role. FDA will benefit greatly from his leadership,” Gottlieb said in a tweet today.
Sharpless co-founded two clinical-stage biotech plays and previously ran the University of North Carolina’s Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, and was an enthusiastic supporter of Gottlieb’s efforts related to tobacco and e-cigarettes.
“Dr. Sharpless’ deep scientific background and expertise will make him a strong leader for F.D.A. 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,” HHS Secretary Alex Azar said in a statement.
Sharpless has served as director of the NIH’s National Cancer Institute since October 2017 and also serves as chief of aging biology and cancer section of the National Institute on Aging’s Laboratory of Genetics and Genomics, according to a New York Times report.
“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.
Gottlieb announced he would be resigning from his position at the head of the national watchdog last Tuesday, to the surprise of many.