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Sharyl Nass, PhD

Director of the National Cancer Policy Forum
Institute of Medicine
National Academy of Medicine
Washington, DC

Current Research

  • Seeking to improve patient access to effective and affordable anti-cancer drugs.

  • An Institute of Medicine committee is evaluating factors affecting patient access to drugs to develop approaches to address significant needs in health care cost and delivery.

  • This IOM study addresses key issues affecting health care costs and will provide recommendations to ensure patients have access to affordable and effective drugs.

The monthly median cost of cancer drugs has increased 100-fold since 1965, leading to significant financial burdens for cancer patients. At the same time, shortages of lower cost generic drugs have become commonplace, jeopardizing the health outcomes for patients who cannot access essential medications. The causes for these trends are complex and multi-factorial, but contributing factors include market forces, health care payment and reimbursement policies, health insurance design and cost-sharing policies, and state and federal laws.

Dr. Nass has initiated an Institute of Medicine (IOM) consensus study to examine these factors and develop approaches to address drug price trends, improve patient access to affordable and effective treatments, and encourage innovations that address significant needs in health care.

The IOM has a long tradition of providing science-based policy advice from a national perspective. This tradition rests on the ability to convene diverse committees of experts who deliberate in an objective and independent environment, assuring rigorous analysis for the achievement of consensus recommendations.

A draft report with findings and recommendations to improve patient access to affordable medicines has been written, and will soon be released to the public.


Sharyl Nass, PhD, is a scholar at the National Academy of Medicine’s Institute of Medicine where she serves as Director of the National Cancer Policy Forum and Director of the Board on Health Care Services. Over the past 15 years, her work at IOM has focused on topics such as the quality of cancer care, cancer clinical trials, cancer biomarker tests, strategies for large-scale biomedical science, and technologies and quality standards for early detection of breast cancer. With a PhD in cell biology from Georgetown University and postdoctoral training at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, she has studied the cell biology of breast cancer. She also has a BS in genetics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and has studied developmental genetics at the Max Planck Institute in Germany. Dr. Nass received the Cecil Award for Excellence in Health Policy Research (2007), a National Academies Distinguished Service Award (2010), and an IOM staff team achievement award (2012).

BCRF Investigator Since


Area(s) of Focus