Dr. Sharpless led the National Cancer Institute (NCI) from 2017 to 2022. He was appointed acting commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2019 and served for seven months before returning to his position at the NCI. Prior to his government service, Sharpless was the director of the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill’s Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center from 2014 until 2017.
An experienced cancer researcher, Sharpless is renowned for his discoveries related to cell aging. He founded G1 Therapeutics, which developed the FDA-approved medicine Cosela (Trilaciclib), used to prevent chemotherapy toxicity. He is a member of the American Association for Cancer Research Academy, the Association of American Physicians, the American Society for Clinical Investigation and the National Academy of Medicine.
A native of Greensboro, N.C., Sharpless earned an undergraduate degree in mathematics and a medical degree from the UNC-Chapel Hill. He completed his residency training at Massachusetts General Hospital and his clinical and research fellowship in hematology and oncology at Dana-Farber/Partners Cancer Care in Boston. He returned to Chapel Hill to accept a faculty appointment at the Lineberger Center in 2002.