The Senate confirmed Dr. Margaret Hamburg, a bioterrorism expert, as the next FDA Commissioner on May 18. President Obama's choice to oversee food and drug safety will be the second woman to hold the post in 100 years of agency history.
At her confirmation hearing, Hamburg told senators she wants to restore public confidence in the agency by putting science first and running an open and accountable operation, according to The Washington Post. The agency's reputation has been marred by the withdrawal of FDA-approved drugs, foodborne illness outbreaks and insufficient oversight of the nation's food supply.
Prevention of foodborne illness outbreaks is one of Hamburg's primary goals, although she's aware that efforts toward this goal will require money and changes in legislation.
Hamburg is one of the youngest people ever elected to the Institute of Medicine, an affiliate of the National Academy of Sciences. She is a highly regarded expert in community health and bio-defense, including preparedness for nuclear, biological and chemical threats. Hamburg served as health commissioner for New York City from 1991 to 1997, and was selected by President Clinton as assistant secretary for policy and evaluation at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in 1997.
Since 2001, Hamburg has been vice president for biological programs at the Nuclear Threat Initiative, a foundation dedicated to reducing the threat to public safety from nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. As FDA's commissioner, Hamburg will be in a position to meet many of the challenges facing the nation's public health as well as its food supply.