Skip to content

Dr. Ned Sharpless Stepping Down as National Cancer Institute Director

Dr. Ned Sharpless Stepping Down as National Cancer Institute Director

Friends of Cancer Research (Friends) would like to thank Dr. Ned Sharpless for his tireless public service and scientific leadership as Director of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) as well as his tenure as acting Commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

“Dr. Sharpless deserves our country’s deep gratitude for his years of selfless public service and leadership.  He led the NCI – a vital public health agency – during one of the most difficult times for our country and contributed greatly to help lead us out of this pandemic by helping to validate COVID-19 testing while taking great care to assure cancer patients were still being treated and screened,” said Ellen Sigal, Chair & Founder of Friends of Cancer Research.

Dr. Sharpless spurred large-scale collaborations to accelerate research and optimize data-sharing across the community.  This includes the creation of the Cancer Research Data Commons, which is a nation-leading research data infrastructure used by thousands of investigators to advance cancer science, and the Pediatric Immunotherapy Drug Discovery Network used to design and develop new treatments for childhood cancer. In addition to these seismic achievements, under Dr. Sharpless’s leadership the NCI completed the Human Tumor Atlas Network, (HTAN), providing data and insights related to the early stages of cancer development.

“During his time at NCI he also implemented the cancer moonshot – which set forth foundational changes – including new paradigms to data science, novel insights to early detection and prevention, and collaborative research tools that can be utilized by thousands of researchers. Ned also answered the call of public service once again when he was asked to lead the FDA as acting Commissioner during the previous administration. No matter what his title was, he always held patients as his north star,” continued Dr. Sigal.

What is undeniable since the start of his career has been Dr. Sharpless’s commitment to improving patient outcomes. We look forward to working with Dr. Sharpless and wish him well in whatever the next chapter brings.


About Friends of Cancer Research

Friends of Cancer Research (Friends) is working to accelerate policy change, support groundbreaking science, and deliver new therapies to patients quickly and safely. We unite scientists, pharmaceutical companies, and policy makers with shared trust and guide them toward meaningful cooperation. This collaboration among partners from every healthcare sector ultimately drives advances in science, policy, and regulation that speed life-saving treatments to patients. For more information, please visit