BETHESDA, MarylandRichard D. Klausner, MD, has resigned as director of the National Cancer Institute to become president of a new scientific organization, the Case Institute for Health, Science and Technology. In a letter to President George W. Bush, Dr. Klausner called his 6-year tenure "the most challenging and rewarding of my career. The NCI is a jewel that I have had the honor to lead."
Steve and Jean Case established the Case Institute as part of their nonprofit Case Foundation. Steve Case is a founder of America Online (AOL) and is now chairman of AOL Time Warner. The new Case Institute will be located in Washington, DC.
Dr. Klausner, who continued a small research effort throughout his NCI directorship, will continue to head his laboratory at NCI as an unpaid NIH "special volunteer."
In a statement, Mr. Case said that the purpose of the new institute "is to pioneer new ground in a space where science, medicine, and technology need to converge in an unprecedented way. As many in these fields recognize, there is a compelling need to establish new platforms to share information and address challenges in a more collective way."
The Klausner era at NCI was marked by significant changes in management structure and research direction. He was a strong advocate for biomedical research, a pragmatic visionary capable of capturing an audiencewhether layman or professionalwith his articulate road map to how science will subdue cancer, and an effective voice on Capital Hill where Dr. Klausner enjoyed good relations with members of both political parties.
"He has been a strong spokesman for the war on cancer, justified doubling of the budget at NCI, and used the funds to expand research across the spectrum of clinical, epidemiological, and basic sciences," said Phillip A. Sharp, PhD, professor of biology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and chair of the National Cancer Advisory Board. "The NCI leadership under Rick has led the community to embrace new technologies and science that have already produced a new generation of highly effective cancer drugs with the promise of many more in the future."
Under Dr. Klausner’s direction, the NCI reduced the percentage of research funds allocated to intramural research and sharpened the focus of its inhouse research. However, the increasing money that resulted from the 5-year effort to double the NIH budget provided both intramural and extramural NCI researchers with additional funds.