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William Roper, MD, MPH, Dean of the School of Medicine, Vice Chancellor for Medical Affairs, and CEO of University of North Carolina Health Care System, announces the appointment of Norman “Ned” Sharpless, MD, as director of the University of North Carolina Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, effective January 1, 2014.


Dr. Sharpless, MD, succeeds H. Shelton “Shelley” Earp, MD, as Center Director. Dr. Earp will continue as director of UNC Cancer Care, a role in which he coordinates cancer care and research across the School of Medicine, the University and UNC Health Care System.

“Ned Sharpless is an exceptional choice to become only the third Director in UNC Lineberger’s history,” said Dr. Roper. “Our Cancer Center has grown dramatically in multi-disciplinary clinical capability, research productivity, funding and national stature. As an outstanding clinician, nationally recognized researcher and scientific entrepreneur, Ned will lead UNC Lineberger to even greater accomplishments in its second half century.”

Dr. Sharpless, a Morehead Scholar and honors graduate of UNC and the UNC School of Medicine, is currently Wellcome Distinguished Professor of Cancer Research, professor of medicine and genetics, and UNC Lineberger’s deputy director. A practicing medical oncologist, trained at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Massachusetts General Hospital, Dr. Sharpless leads a well-funded, 20-person cancer research laboratory. His program uses genetically engineered mouse models to study cancer and aging. His more than 100 fundamental and translational scientific articles have been published in the world’s best journals, among them Cell, Nature, New England Journal of Medicine, Cancer Cell and Journal of Clinical Investigation.

“Ned is a star in the world of oncology,” said Marschall Runge, MD, PhD, Executive Dean of the School of Medicine. “He is a unique individual who has made major contributions to understanding the fundamental aspects of cancer biology. He is not only a renowned physician and researcher, but a great leader, as well.”

Edward Benz, MD, President, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and a member of the University Cancer Research Fund Committee, said, “Ned is the ideal leader to carry forward Dr. Joe Pagano’s and Dr. Shelley Earp’s legacy of distinguished leadership. He possesses the academic talent and stature, the personal qualities, the vision, and the energy to make certain that UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center plays its leading role in the campaign to conquer cancer.”

Dr. Sharpless is an inventor with 12 patents that form the core intellectual property for two Research Triangle start-up companies he co-founded. He established and co-leads two major UNC Lineberger initiatives: the Mouse Phase 1 unit, which tests innovative therapies in preclinical models of cancer, and UNCSeq, which coordinates a large faculty team using massively parallel sequencing technology for the benefit of individual patients with cancer.

A recipient of numerous foundation awards, including those from the Sidney Kimmel, Ellison and Burroughs Wellcome foundations, Dr. Sharpless has advanced the science of biomarkers, aging and cancer and novel approaches to therapy. He serves as an editor of the Journal of Clinical Investigation and Aging Cell and has been named a member of the American Society of Clinical Investigators, where he was recently elected to that organization’s governing council.

“Ned is a creative force with an encyclopedic knowledge of clinical oncology and a remarkable grasp of the core sciences, cancer biology and genomics,” said Dr. Earp. “His stature as a nationally-recognized clinician scientist, his energy, and his North Carolina roots make him the perfect choice as the next leader of North Carolina’s public comprehensive cancer center.”

3 Directors

Date: Aug.20, 2013