President Obama taps Barbara Rimer to lead National Cancer Panel

President Obama has announced his intent to nominate Barbara K. Rimer, DrPH, Dean and Alumni Distinguished Professor of the University of North Carolina Gillings School of Global Public Health, to chair the President’s Cancer Panel. The panel was established as part of the National Cancer Act, signed by President Nixon in 1971

The three-member panel monitors the development and execution of the activities of the National Cancer Program, and reports directly to the President on barriers to program implementation. Members serve 3-year terms, and at least two of the three panel members must be distinguished scientists or physicians. The panel meets at least four times each year, and these meetings are open to the public.

“The President’s Cancer Panel has the potential to be one of the most influential bodies shaping national policy regarding cancer. With appointment of Barbara Rimer, President Obama and NCI Director Harold Varmus have sent a message; they want the best,” said H. Shelton Earp, Director of UNC’s Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center. “Barbara’s outstanding accomplishments as a population scientist, and leadership roles in the federal government, cancer center and public health make her an exceptional choice. She and her panel colleagues will provide an extraordinary synthesis of the nation’s research output leavened by an understanding of the human impact of cancer on patients and their families. This and Barbara’s commitment to solving the issue of minority cancer disparities will inform this nation’s approach to a disease that touches one in three Americans.”

Appointed Dean in 2005, Rimer has been on the UNC faculty since 2003. She is a member of UNC’s Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center and served as its deputy director until she was appointed dean. From 1997 to 2002, she was director of the Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences at the National Cancer Institute. She has held leadership positions at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, NC and the Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia, PA.

Rimer has served on a number of boards, including the Task Force on Community Preventive Services, AFLAC’s board of directors, and as the first woman to chair the National Cancer Institute’s National Cancer Advisory Board.

A recipient of the Director's Award from the National Institutes of Health and the American Cancer Society’s Distinguished Service Award, she was elected to the Institute of Medicine in 2008. Rimer holds BA and MPH degrees from the University of Michigan and a DrPH from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

The President also announced his intent to nominate Owen N. Witte, MD, to the panel. Witte has been Director of the Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) since 2007.