Outgoing Cancer Chief: Congress, Universities Must Deal With Trump Budget Uncertainties

Jun 29, 2017

Dr. Doug Lowy was appointed by then-President Barack Obama and is slated to be replaced by President Donald Trump's pick, a University of North Carolina cancer researcher.
Credit courtesy National Cancer Institute

As he prepares to exit the job he’s held for the last two years, interim National Cancer Institute Director Doug Lowy visited Purdue Thursday as part of a survey of Indiana college research initiatives.

Lowy had spent time earlier in the week visiting Indiana University’s Simon Cancer Center in Indianapolis and giving an update on the first year of former Vice President Joe Biden’s so-called “cancer moonshot” funding – much of which he says is still slated to go to places like Big Ten Universities.

“We are putting out hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of funding, that are directly part of the cancer moonshot and the vast majority of that research is going to be conducted in Indiana and at other research institutions,” Lowy says.

However, President Trump’s budget proposed massive cutbacks in the amount of grant money available for university research through agencies including the National Institutes of Health, of which the National Cancer Institute is a part.

“It remains to be seen what will happen," Lowy says. "Congress really needs to look at the president’s proposal and see what it thinks would be most appropriate.”

Still, Lowy – an Obama administration appointee -- insists his job isn’t radically different going from a very science-forward White House to the more skeptical Trump administration.

“It hasn’t changed much at all, actually," he says. "We are supporting the best research to help our patients. And that’s what we were doing before the Trump administration and that’s what we’re doing with the Trump administration.”

Lowy is slated to be replaced by Trump’s pick, University of North Carolina researcher Norman Sharpless, though a timetable for the handover of power hasn’t been announced.