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The Other Big Political News in Washington

The Senate on Tuesday confirmed Scott Gottlieb as the commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration by a 57 to 42 vote.

A former deputy commissioner at the FDA during the George W. Bush administration, Gottlieb is a former hospitalist and fellow at the conservative American Enterprise Institute. He also has extensive ties with several healthcare companies, including pharmaceutical firms.

While his confirmation was mostly expected, and a handful of Democrats crossed the aisle to vote in favor of his confirmation, concerns about his ties to industry remains an issue for some.

The New York Times notes that during the debate before Tuesday's vote, Senator Patty Murray, a Democrat from Washington state, said that she is unconvinced that Gottlieb will be able to withstand the political pressure from the Trump administration "or that he will be truly committed to putting our families' health first. I've grown increasingly concerned about whether he can lead the FDA in an unbiased way, given his unprecedented industry ties."

Supporters, however, point to his recovery from Hodgkin's lymphoma as evidence that he has an insider's perspective on the healthcare system, Medscape says, adding that supporters also see his experience in the private sector as a strength.

Gottlieb has promised that if confirmed he would divest his investments in healthcare companies, resign from industry positions, and recuse himself from any FDA decisions relating to about 20 companies and institutions for one year, in order to avoid conflicts of interest.

The Scan

Cancer Survival Linked to Mutational Burden in Pan-Cancer Analysis

A pan-cancer paper appearing in JCO Precision Oncology suggests tumor mutation patterns provide clues for predicting cancer survival that are independent of other prognostic factors.

Australian Survey Points to Public Support for Genetic Risk Disclosure in Relatives of At-Risk Individuals

A survey in the European Journal of Human Genetics suggests most adult Australians are in favor of finding out if a relative tests positive for a medically actionable genetic variant.

Study Links Evolution of Stony Coral Skeleton to Bicarbonate Transporter Gene

A PNAS paper focuses on a skeleton-related bicarbonate transporter gene introduced to stony coral ancestors by tandem duplication.

Hormone-Based Gene Therapy to Sterilize Domestic Cat

A new paper in Nature Communication suggests that gene therapy could be a safer alternative to spaying domestic cats.