Rumors reached a fever pitch in Washington this week that the Bush transition team had tapped a director for the National Institutes of Health, but the supposed candidate denies all. John Mendelsohn, president of the University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, told ScienceNOW today in a statement that although "It would be an honor to be considered" for the NIH post, "no one has approached me about it" and "I love my job."
Mendelsohn, who is said to have links to the Bush family, has worked at the University of California, San Diego, and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City. But observers noted that if offered the NIH job, he would have to mull whether he is willing to give up positions on the boards of biotech ImClone Systems and Enron, the giant Houston-based energy company, and become a politico. And one biomedical research lobbyist expressed concern that a clinical oncologist might not "resonate with" NIH's mostly basic research grantees--and might also add to NIH's already heavy slant toward cancer research.