NantKwest CEO (AKA World's Richest Doctor) Rumored to Have Met Trump for Top NIH Job

NantKwest CEO (AKA World's Richest Doctor) Rumored to Have Met Trump for Top NIH Job January 16, 2017
By Alex Keown, Breaking News Staff

WASHINGTON -- The man billed as the world’s richest doctor, Patrick Soon-Shiong, who is also the chief executive officer of NantKwest, could be on President-elect Donald Trump’s short list as head of the National Institutes of Health.

Soon-Shiong met with Trump on Jan. 10, according to a report in Nature. Unnamed people familiar with the matter described the meeting as job interviews. Other than the fact that Soon-Shiong met with Trump, little has been reported about the nature of the meeting. This was the second meeting Soon-Shiong had with Trump. In November, a few weeks after Trump won the presidential election, Soon-Shiong met with the president-elect to talk about healthcare issues. At the time the Trump transition team said the two men spent their dinner talking about “innovation in the area of medicine and national medical priorities that need to be addressed in our country.” Soon-Shiong confirmed the first meeting on his Twitter account, saying that Trump “wants to advance healthcare for all.” Soon-Shiong has not posted anything about his latest meeting with Trump on that social media platform.

Soon-Shiong was not the only candidate who allegedly met with Trump about the NIH position. Nature reported that current NIH head Francis Collins and U.S. Rep. Andy Harris, a Maryland Republican, also met with Trump about the position. Additionally, Geoffrey Ling, the former director of biotechnology at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Administration, and Sanford University epidemiologist John Ionnidis also met with Trump, Nature said.

Soon-Shiong, the former founder of Abraxis and American Pharmaceutical Partners, has worked with Vice President Joe Biden on his cancer moonshot initiative. Also in January 2016, Soon-Shiong organized a coalition of companies, academics, researchers and more to launch MoonShot 2020, which is focused on bringing the “promise of combined immunotherapy as the next-generation standard of cancer care” to children diagnosed with the disease. The MoonShot 2020 has a central mission to design, initiate and finish randomized clinical trials in up to 20 tumor types in cancers of all stages in 20,000 patients by the year 2020. MoonShot 2020 is made up of a coalition of companies, including Celgene , Amgen and Merck KgaA . The coalition formed the National Immunotherapy Coalition (NIC) to develop and test combination therapies for various forms of cancers. The programs that will run under the NIC will focus on Phase I and Phase II clinical trials to treat various tumor types for cancers including breast, lung, prostate, ovarian, brain, head and neck, multiple myeloma, sarcoma, and pancreatic cancer. The NIC has hopes of enrolling 20,000 patients by 2020.

If Soon-Shiong is not tapped for the NIH position, Nature said he could be considered for the role of presidential science adviser, who provides opinions and analyses of various scientific matters to the president.

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