U.S. President Joe Biden today announced that he would nominate Robert M. Califf, a former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, to lead the agency again, reports The New York Times.
A cardiologist and long-time consultant to drug companies, Califf ran the FDA during the last year of the Obama administration
“Dr. Califf is one of the most experienced clinical trialists in the country, and has the experience and expertise to lead the Food and Drug Administration during a critical time in our nation’s fight to put an end to the coronavirus pandemic,” Biden said in a statement.
Califf has been a forceful advocate for tobacco control; before he was the FDA commissioner, he was the agency’s deputy commissioner for medical products and tobacco. In an appearance with other former commissioners this year, he said, “I have never seen more capable or nastier lawyers than what I experienced in trying to deal with the tobacco industry. It was awesome and quite frightening for public health.”
After stepping down as the vice chancellor for clinical and translational health at Duke University, Califf has worked as a senior adviser to Verily Life Sciences, a health technology firm, and its sister company Google Health. Califf, who remains an adjunct professor of medicine at both Duke and Stanford University, is on the corporate board of Cytokinetics, a biopharmaceutical company, according to its website.
Califf said he was honored to be nominated for the position “at a critical time for our country,” adding, “There’s a lot of work to do, and if confirmed I look forward to rejoining the great team at the FDA to help in their inspiring mission to serve the public.”
The FDA has had seven different commissioners, including Califf, since 2012, when Margaret Hamburg left the post.