President Barack Obama has nominated Robert Califf, a cardiologist and researcher at Duke University, to be the next commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, the Washington Post reports.
The position opened up earlier this year when Margaret Hamburg stepped down after six years leading the agency. She hired Califf to serve as the deputy commissioner for medical products and tobacco before she left, and he was widely expected to be chosen as her successor. The Post notes that Stephen Ostroff has been serving as acting commissioner since Hamburg's departure in March.
As a researcher, Califf has run a number of clinical trials and been on a number of FDA advisory committees. "[He] has been a leader on so many vital issues that directly impact patient's lives. He will bring a truly important and unique perspective," says Ellen Sigal, chair of the nonprofit Friends of Cancer Research, in a statement. "This is a very important choice at this time to carry out the mission of an agency that keeps the country safe and gets new therapies to those that need them most."
Others note, the New York Times adds, that Califf has little background in public health.
The next head of the FDA will have to grapple with changes in medicine and possibly within the agency itself, the Post says, as the 21st Century Cures Act, which aims to speed up the drug and device approval processed, is wending its way through Congress.
But the Senate must confirm Califf, and, as the Post notes, many Obama Administration nominees — like Marc Kastner, who was nominated to lead the DOE Office of Science — have languished.