PHILADELPHIA, Sept. 14 - NCI Director Richard Klausner announced on Tuesday that he will step down from his post on Sept. 30 to take over as president of the new Case Institute of Health, Science, and Technology, a new enterprise being created by the family foundation of AOL Time Warner Chairman Steve Case and his wife, Jean. In a statement released earlier this week, Case said the institute would be designed to "build bridges between disciplines and connect the dots across a wide range of thinking …"
Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson credited Klausner, who was appointed to his NCI post by Bill Clinton in 1995, with summoning "a unique blend of scientific and administrative talents to guide basic and clinical cancer research to new heights."
Klausner has been credited with persuading legislators to double NCI's budget and with encouraging NCI staff to take new approaches to cancer research based on genomics, proteomics, and other emerging technologies. He also orchestrated a NCI's deal with Celera Genomics, announced in July, to provide researchers at the institute with access to Celera's human genome database
In May this year, when he presented Congress with the President's FY 2002 NCI budget proposal, Klausner referred to several new genomics-related programs that have been launched at the institute during his reign. In partnership with other government agencies, industry, and academics, Klausner created the Early Detection Research Network -- a national R&D enterprise to discover biomarkers of cancer, develop reliable tests, and validate them with clinical studies. Two years ago, he established a program aimed at utilizing genomic data to develop new approaches to the diagnosis of cancer. And, currently, Klausner is building what he called "a genomic-scale effort to discover molecular probes for all potential cancer relevant molecular targets." The initiative will be comprised of one to three large contract efforts called National Molecular Target Laboratories.
The budget that Klausner requested for NCI for FY2002 totaled $4.1 billion, a $4.3 million increase over the institute's FY2001 appropriation.
Klausner will continue to head a laboratory as a "special volunteer" at NIH, where he has conducted research for more than 20 years. Ruth Kirschstein, acting director of NIH, said in a statement that Klausner had "transformed the organization while moving the science forward at an exceptional pace."
Secretary Thompson said that an acting director for NCI would be named to take over until President Bush appoints Klausner's replacement.
The Washington Post reported on Wednesday that the Case Institute of Health, Science, and Technology is being built in Washington's DuPont Circle neighborhood and that, in the institute's early years, Klausner believed he would have about $100 million to spend on "innovative research projects at the interface of biology and medicine, the physical sciences and the world of information technology."