President Barack Obama has announced his nomination to lead the FDA: Robert Califf, MD, the current deputy commissioner for medical products and tobacco at the FDA. If the Senate confirms the nomination, Dr Califf would take the reins as the new commissioner for food and drugs.
In February, Margaret Hamburg, MD, announced she was stepping down, and since then Stephen Ostroff, MD, the FDA's chief scientist has filled the position. At the time, there had been speculation when Dr Califf's appointment with the FDA was first announced in January 2015 that he was part of the FDA's succession plan and would eventually become the next FDA commissioner.
“Dr Califf’s deep knowledge and experience in the areas of medicine and clinical research will enable the agency to capitalize on, and improve upon, the significant advances we’ve made in medical product development and regulation over the last few years,” Dr Hamburg had said in a statement upon Dr Califf’s appointment as deputy commissioner.
Dr Califf has spent most of his career in academia, having spent more than 30 years as a prominent cardiologist and medical researcher at Duke University. However, he has some experience with the FDA, having served on the agency's Cardiorenal Advisory Panel from 1996 to 2000 and its Science Board Working Group from 2007 to 2008.
Among the issues Dr Califf will have to tackle as commissioner are unfinished tobacco regulations, food safety and labeling reforms, and pressure from Republicans in Congress to streamline drug reviews.
The White House announced the nomination Tuesday along with a number of other officials being nominated for various federal positions.