President Barack Obama has nominated respected researcher Robert Califf as the next commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration.
Sixty-three year old Cardiologist Califf took on the role of deputy commissioner for medical products and tobacco at the agency earlier this year, having held various positions at Duke University, including vice chancellor of clinical and translational research and director of the Duke Translational Medicine Institute.
He also previously served as the founding director of one of the world’s largest research organisations the Duke Clinical Research Institute, and is one of the top 10 most-cited medical authors with over 1,200 peer-reviewed publications under his belt.
The nomination remains subject to acceptance by the US Senate, but industry observers anticipate that there won’t be too much resistance to the move.
Ellen Sigal, chair of the patient advocacy group Friends of Cancer Research, was quoted by Reuters as saying “this is the right choice at the right time for a complex agency that impacts all Americans”.
But according to the Wall Street Journal, Diana Zuckerman, president of medical product safety group the National Center for Health Research, has also questioned Califf’s ties to the drug industry.
“Dr Califf’s expertise and his close ties to the pharmaceutical industry are both well-known,” she reportedly said. “His ties to industry have been a source of great concern to public-health experts when he was previously considered for FDA commissioner, and those ties raise important questions about this nomination”.
Former FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg stepped down at the end of March following a six-year stint at the helm, and Stephen Ostroff has served as acting commissioner since.