Douglas Lowy, MD, Assumes Helm at National Cancer Institute

April 02, 2015

Douglas Lowy, MD, whose research helped lay the groundwork for the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, has taken over the helm of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) as acting director.

He succeeds Harold Varmus, MD, who announced his resignation earlier this month. Dr Lowy had served as the NCI's deputy director since 2010.

Last fall, President Barack Obama awarded Dr Lowy and John Schiller, PhD, the National Medal of Technology and Innovation for their basic research on papillomaviruses and the initial development, characterization, and clinical testing of HPV vaccines. That work, which began in the 1980s, eventually resulted in three vaccines being approved by the US Food and Drug Administration.

"We are fortunate to have a scientist of such stature stepping into the role of acting director of the NCI," said NIH Director Francis Collins, MD, PhD, in a news release. "Dr Lowy possesses not only a sharp intellect, deep knowledge of science, and proven leadership experience, but he takes a warm and humane approach to all things. He is superbly positioned to lead the NCI at a time of exceptional progress in cancer research."

Like other branches of the NIH, the NCI has been coping with substantial budget cuts in recent years. In a letter posted on the NCI website, Dr Lowy said one of his first tasks will be to testify along with Dr Collins about the NIH budget before the Senate Appropriations Committee on April 30.

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