Texas Researcher to Head NCI

The White House today nominated a prostate cancer clinician from Texas to head the $3.7 billion National Cancer Institute (NCI), the largest institute of the National Institutes of Health. Andrew C. von Eschenbach, a urologic surgeon at the University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, was described by President George W. Bush in a White House announcement as "one of America's finest medical researchers."

Von Eschenbach, 60, directs Anderson's prostate cancer research program, which moves the results of basic research into the clinic. He's also president-elect of the American Cancer Society and a two-time cancer survivor. "I will be devoted to nurturing and promoting the paradigm of discovery through basic research," von Eschenbach said in a statement, adding that he will also put an emphasis on getting new drugs and other treatments to patients.

Von Eschenbach's nomination had been rumored for several weeks (Science, 2 November, p. 973). The Bush family are strong supporters of M. D. Anderson, and that is said to have played a role in his selection. Von Eschenbach will succeed NCI director Richard Klausner, who is credited with promoting a molecular approach to cancer at NCI during his 5 years at the helm. Klausner left to head the new private Case Institute of Health, Science, and Technology in October.

"Those are big boots to fill," notes cancer researcher John Niederhuber of the University of Wisconsin, Madison. He and others praise von Eschenbach's people skills and say he understands the needs of basic scientists. "He's a great guy, and he'll do his damnedest to do the best job he can do," Niederhuber says. Von Eschenbach's nomination must now be approved by the Senate.

Related site

NCI press release about the nomination