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Call to Fill FDA Spot

Half a dozen former commissioners of the US Food and Drug Administration are calling on President Joe Biden to nominate a new agency head, Stat News reports.

Stephen Hahn stepped down from the post with the change in administrations and, currently, Janet Woodcock is serving as the acting FDA commissioner. Mark McClellan, FDA commissioner during the Bush Administration and a signatory of the new letter, told Politico in January filling the spot should be a priority during a pandemic.

In a letter to President Biden, the former commissioners — who also include Robert Califf, Scott Gottlieb, Margaret Hamburg, Jane Henney, and Andrew von Eschenbach — echo that sentiment, saying that the agency "is playing a critical role in our nation's response to the COVID pandemic."

"To continue to advance the agency's mission, and promote its independent role, we urge you to prioritize securing its leadership team, including through seeking the formal nomination and confirmation of an FDA Commissioner," they add.

The New York Times reported last month that Woodcock and Joshua Sharfstein, who was deputy commissioner at FDA during the Obama Administration, are leading candidates for the post, but that others including David Kessler, Amy Abernethy, FDA's principal deputy commissioner; and Luciana Borio, a former acting chief scientist at FDA have also been considered.

The Scan

Push Toward Approval

The Wall Street Journal reports the US Food and Drug Administration is under pressure to grant full approval to SARS-CoV-2 vaccines.

Deer Exposure

About 40 percent of deer in a handful of US states carry antibodies to SARS-CoV-2, according to Nature News.

Millions But Not Enough

NPR reports the US is set to send 110 million SARS-CoV-2 vaccine doses abroad, but that billions are needed.

PNAS Papers on CRISPR-Edited Cancer Models, Multiple Sclerosis Neuroinflammation, Parasitic Wasps

In PNAS this week: gene-editing approach for developing cancer models, role of extracellular proteins in multiple sclerosis, and more.