Government service isn’t forever. Dynamic, transformative leaders enter and leave federally appointed positions for a variety of reasons and new appointments. Such was the case for the National Cancer Institute’s (NCI’s) former director Norman Sharpless, MD, who was appointed to head the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in April 2019 after Scott Gottlieb, MD, announced he would step down.
Sharpless’ new position at FDA left a vacancy at the head of NCI. National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director Francis Collins, MD, PhD, was tasked with finding a replacement. He looked no further than someone already familiar with the position. Collins appointed Douglas Lowy, MD, a well-regarded, seasoned cancer researcher and former NCI director, to fill in as acting NCI director once again.
Lowy hit the ground running as acting director, representing NCI—alongside other leaders from NIH—before a House appropriations subcommittee examining NIH’s future budget for research programs and community outreach.
In a recent NCI blog post, Lowy outlined his continued vision for NCI and offered some reflection on leadership.
“In the months ahead, rest assured that I—and everyone at NCI—will remain focused on supporting the very best science in pursuit of better understanding the causes of cancer and its pathogenesis, and improving our ability to prevent, diagnose, and treat it.” Lowy said. “I look forward to sharing with you, via this blog and other forums, more about how NCI is helping to shape and nurture a vibrant cancer research community to better prevent and treat cancer in service to patients everywhere.”
Lowy had previously served as acting NCI director between April 2015 and October 2017. Prior to that, he held the NCI deputy director position beginning in July 2010, helping to lead key NCI scientific programs.