March 13, 2009

President Obama Selects Woman With Cornell Ties to Head FDA

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President Barack Obama has selected Margaret Hamburg to serve as the new head of the federal Food and Drug Administration pending Senate confirmation, according to inside sources confirmed by Reuters. 
After earning her M.D. from Harvard Medical School and finishing her medical training at the Cornell University Medical Center, she went on to hold numerous jobs and official titles, padding her resume and reputation as a public health leader and bioterrorism expert, which led to her recent appointment. She also held an academic position at the Cornell Medical College in New York City. 
While much of Hamburg’s medical career path followed the same ones her parents led, such as her election to the renowned Institute of Medicine, Hamburg diverged from the strictly medical pathway. After doing research in neuroscience and pharmacology, she went on to serve in the U.S. Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion as deputy health commissioner and commissioner of New York City; as assistant secretary for policy and evaluation at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and as vice president for biological programs at the Nuclear Threat Initiative. 
Former President Bill Clinton appointed Hamburg to the post at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services — the second position Clinton offered her, but the first one she accepted. Four years earlier, Clinton offered her the position of federal AIDS coordinator. She declined the post because she was pregnant with her first child. During the pregnancy, she remained at her post of health commissioner of New York City. On her child’s birth certificate, her name appears in two places: as the mother and as the health commissioner. 
Some of the issues Hamburg is expected to undertake as head of the FDA include tobacco regulation and a renovation of the nation’s food safety system.