Norman "Ned" Sharpless is the current Director of the National Cancer Institute as a presidential appointee under President Donald Trump. Sharpless was the former Professor of Medicine and Genetics Chair, Director of University of North Carolina UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, Molecular Therapeutics, Wellcome Distinguished Professorship in Cancer Research. He has published numerous papers that show the role of p16INK4a in shutting down the stem cells that renew the body's various tissues. He is also one of the founders of G1 Therapeutics, listed $GTHX under the NASDAQ, which is a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company developing novel, small-molecule therapies that address significant unmet needs in the treatment of cancer. Extending upon this work, Sharpless' team developed the p16LUC model, a genetically engineered mouse that 'glows' upon activation of the p16INK4a promoter due to insertion of firefly luciferase in place of the endogenous gene. Use of this system revealed the activation of p16INK4a in tissues surrounding nascent tumors, allowing scientists to non-invasively visualize the formation and progression of spontaneous cancers in living animals. Furthermore, this allele has made it feasible to better understand aging toxicology. Specifically, Ned's lab has used the p16LUC allele to understand how low dose toxic exposure over a lifetime can affect the rate of molecular aging.
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