The United States Senate voted at the end of February to confirm Robert Califf as the next commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Califf, a cardiologist and academic researcher, received overwhelming support from an often divided Senate; the vote was 89 to 4.
Califf, who was nominated by President Obama in September 2015 and has been working for FDA for the past year, previously served as an administrator and researcher at Duke University. Califf succeeds Margaret hamburg, who left FDA in March 2015 after six years. Califf was supported by a number of academic and professional associations, including the American Heart Association, the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, and Friends of Cancer Research.
Califf will face a number of challenges and major initiatives, including implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act, continued regulation of the tobacco industry, and developing new regulations surrounding e-cigarettes.
Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell released a statement following Califf’s confirmation, stating “Califf is the right person with the right experience to build on the FDA’s unsurpassed record of protecting public health while encouraging innovation and the introduction of new life-saving therapies to the market.”