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Chapel Hill, NC – Norman E. “Ned” Sharpless, MD, professor of medicine and genetics and Associate Director for Translational Research at UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center has been appointed the Wellcome Distinguished Professor in Cancer Research. The professorship was established by the School of Medicine in 1988 with gifts from the Burroughs Wellcome Fund and the William A. Smith Trust of Wadesboro, NC. The gifts were supplemented by the state of North Carolina the Distinguished Professors Endowment Trust Fund to create the endowed professorship.

“Dr. Sharpless is an outstanding clinician, teacher and scientist. He is among this institution’s most sought-after teachers and mentors and his laboratory is one of the most innovative and productive in his field”, said William L. Roper, MD, MPH, Dean of the UNC School of Medicine and CEO of the UNC Health Care System.

“In addition to his accomplishment in fundamental research, Dr. Sharpless is an exemplar of a new breed of entrepreneurial researcher. He has gathered intellectual property from his UNC work and created a UNC start-up, G-Zero. The company is developing agents that can be used to minimize the toxicity of chemotherapy and be used as radioprotectants in the case of human exposure to accidental radiation,” he added.

“Simply put, Ned is one of the outstanding clinician scientists in the nation. His extraordinary mastery of clinical medicine, high level knowledge of molecular genetics and animal modeling, and passion for improving the lot of cancer patients are a rare combination. He meets anyone’s definition of a rising star in medical oncology, and meets all of the criteria for appointment to a distinguished professorship. Ned’s work will make a difference for cancer patients worldwide,” said Shelley Earp, MD, director of UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Dr. Sharpless, a Greensboro native, was a Morehead Scholar at the University of North Carolina where he studied mathematics as an undergraduate. He graduated with honors and distinction from the UNC School of Medicine, followed by internal medicine training at the Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston. He completed his hematology and oncology training at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, also at Harvard Medical School. After finishing his clinical training, Dr. Sharpless completed a research postdoctoral fellowship at the Dana-Farber, prior to joining the faculty at Harvard Medical School in 2000. Dr. Sharpless returned to UNC in 2002.

In addition to his clinical work as a physician, Dr. Sharpless runs a 17 person basic science laboratory that studies cancer and aging. He is co-leader of the Molecular Therapeutics Program, co-founder and co-director of the UNC Mouse Phase I Unit, and Associate Director of The UNC Center for Aging and Health. He has authored more than 90 original reports, reviews and book chapters, and is an inventor of 10 patents.

His lab has received support from the Sidney Kimmel Foundation for Cancer Research; the American Federation of Aging Research; the William Guy Forbeck Research Foundation; the Golfers Against Cancer Foundation; the Breast Cancer Research Foundation; the Paul Glenn Foundation; and the Ellison Medical Foundation. He is supported by a Clinical Scientist in Translational Research Award from the Burroughs-Wellcome Fund. He is on the scientific advisory board of several scientific foundations and is an associate editor of Aging Cell and Impact Aging, and is the Deputy Editor of the Journal of Clinical Investigation. He was the 2007 recipient of the Jefferson Pilot Award, the 2009 recipient of the Hettleman Prize for Scholarly Achievement, a 2010 recipient of a Glenn Award for Research in Biological Mechanisms of Aging, a 2012 Triangle Business Journal Health Care Hero, and is a member of the American Society of Clinical Investigation (ASCI), the nation’s oldest honor society for physician-scientists. He has been elected to serve on the ASCI council from 2011 to 2014.

The Burroughs Wellcome Fund is an independent private foundation established to advance the medical services by supporting research and other scientific and educational activities. BWF seeks to accomplish two primary goals through its programs: to help outstanding scientists early in their careers develop as independent investigators and to advance fields in the basic medical sciences that are undervalued or in need of particular encouragement.

The William A. Smith Trust is a charitable foundation chartered in 1934 under the will of William Smith, a resident of Ansonville. The foundation is primarily interested in funding educational projects in Anson County, but occasionally extends its interests beyond that area.