BETHESDA, MarylandWhen Richard D. Klausner, MD, became director of the National Cancer Institute in 1995, he took over an agency with low morale and internal conflicts that had angered some influential members of Congress and drawn critical assessments from several outside review panels.
During his tenure, Dr. Klausner improved morale, mended relations with Capitol Hill, instituted a number of needed reforms, set new directions for NCI’s research agenda, and articulated a vision for conquering cancer that was easily understood by the cancer community and layman alike.
Shortly after announcing his resignation as NCI director to become president of the new Case Institute for Health, Science, and Technology, Dr. Klausner talked with Patrick Young, ONI’s Washington Bureau Chief. In last month’s issue, Dr. Klausner explained the research focus of the new Case Institute. In this interview, he discusses his experiences at NCI and the future of biomedical research, particularly the pathways of discovery in cancer.
Oncology News International: As you leave NCI, what gives you the most satisfaction as having been its director?
Dr. Klausner: There were many things, but mostly it was having both the opportunity and the platform to articulate, formulate, and stimulate, and the almost intangible feelingat least from the feedback I’ve gottenof energizing, motivating, and actually inspiring the cancer community. I feel I was part of a really amazing time. The science was fantastic. We thought about new things; we had the resources to initiate many of them. To have been part of a really energized science was incredible.
ONI: What do you regard as your greatest accomplishment as NCI director?
Dr. Klausner: I feel best about the spirit of the Institute and the articulation of a vision for cancer research. I think we got a chance as a community to talk about new ways of relating this institution to the research community and to the patient community, and how people work together in consortia to achieve cancer research.