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From FDA to Venture Capital

Stephen Hahn, the former commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration, has joined the venture capital firm that backed SARS-CoV-2 vaccine-maker Moderna, the Washington Post reports.

Former President Donald Trump nominated Hahn to lead the FDA in November 2019 and he was confirmed the following month in a 72-to-18 vote, but he resigned with the change in administration. As the Post now reports, Hahn is taking up the chief medical officer role at Flagship Pioneering, a life sciences venture firm that is expanding into pandemic preparedness. It adds that the firm incubated Moderna for more than 10 years.

To some, the Post writes that Hahn's move to the firm exemplifies the "revolving door" of Washington in which federal officials take spots in the industries they had regulated, noting that Hahn oversaw FDA when Moderna's vaccine received emergency use authorization. The Post notes there are no rules preventing this and many previous FDA officials have taken similar roles.

"Is it concerning whenever a high-level government official who was instrumental in actions that may have profited a company turns around and goes to work for that company soon thereafter? You bet it is," Walter Shaub, a senior ethics fellow at the Project On Government Oversight, tells the Post. "This is one of many gaps in our weak ethics laws."