Monday starts the first official week with Ned Sharpless serving as the acting commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration. Sharpless took over in the role officially on Friday afternoon, according to the agency’s website.
Sharpless has most recently been serving as the director of the National Cancer Institute, an appointment he accepted in 2017 after three years leading the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center.
Sharpless was a Morehead Scholar at UNC and earned his undergraduate degree in mathematics before attending medial school at UNC. He was also a professor at Harvard for two years before returning to be on the faculty in Chapel Hill in 2002.
The Trump Administration announced in mid-March that Sharpless would be taking over as acting head of the FDA as former administrator Scott Gottlieb resigned the role. Gottlieb’s resignation “stunned public health experts, lawmakers and consumer groups,” according to the New York Times. Gottlieb said he was resigning for personal reasons.
Health and Human Services secretary Alex Azar said when announcing Sharpless’ appointment that Sharpless would be a “strong leader” as the agency focuses on everything from “combating the opioid crisis to modernizing food safety and addressing the rapid rise in youth use of e-cigarettes.”
A search for a permanent successor to Gottlieb is ongoing. It’s unknown whether Sharpless is a candidate to fill the role full-time. The choice to lead the FDA on a regular basis must be nominated by President Donald Trump and confirmed by the Senate.
Photo via UNC