Richard Klausner, director of the National Cancer Institute (NCI), announced today that he has resigned, effective at the end of the month. He will become the first director of a new philanthropic outfit in Washington, D.C., the Case Institute of Health Science and Technology, established with a $100 million in support from America Online founder Steve Case and his wife Jean Case. "One of the great things" about the new job, Klausner said, is that he will remain close to NCI and continue to run an intramural lab there. The Case Institute, according to Klausner, will invest in a spectrum of health projects ranging from developing tools for molecular biology to bioinformatics and even methods of improving water quality in the developing world.
Klausner's departure had been rumored for months, although he denied as recently as 3 weeks ago that he was leaving (Science, 31 August, p. 1569). In an interview the day before he announced his departure at a meeting of the National Cancer Advisory Board (NCAB), Klausner denied a any connection between his move and a clampdown on NCI management by the Department of Health and Human Services, including revocation of large salary increases he had approved for NCI's top executive officer and others. Reports suggesting he is leaving as a result, Klausner said, are "absolutely false" and "made up of whole cloth." Far from welcoming his departure, Klausner said, the Administration recently urged him to stay and head the National Institutes of Health.
Klausner, who has been at NIH for 22 years, took charge of NCI in 1995. He made policy changes designed to make the administration more flexible and promote a molecular understanding of cancer.
Biologist Phillip Sharp of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a member of NCAB, said Klausner made NCI into "an open and forward looking organization." At the NCAB meeting, Sharp praised Klausner for his leadership and "putting cancer research at the cutting edge of science and technology." The Administration has not yet named an acting NCI director.