Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Obama nominates Margaret Hamburg as head of Food & Drug Administration

In a move lauded by public health experts, President Obama has decided to nominate Dr. Margaret Hamburg, a former New York City health commissioner as head of the federal Food and Drug Administration.
Dr. Hamburg, who was appointed by Mayor David N. Dinkins as acting commissioner in 1991 and became commissioner the following year, was one of the few top officials asked to remain when Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani took office in 1994. She was best known for developing a tuberculosis control program that produced sharp declines in the incidences of the disease in New York. Under her tenure, child immunization rates rose in the city.

She left New York in 1997 to become assistant secretary for planning and evaluation at the federal Department of Health and Human Services, where she created a bioterrorism initiative and led planning for pandemic flu response.
Here is what President Obama said in his weekly address about the nomination of Dr. Hamburg:
From her research on infectious disease at the National Institutes of Health to her work on public health at the Department of Health and Human Services to her leadership on biodefense at the Nuclear Threat Initiative, Dr. Hamburg brings to this vital position not only a reputation of integrity but a record of achievement in making Americans safer and more secure. Dr. Hamburg was one of the youngest people ever elected to the National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Medicine. And her two children have a unique distinction of their own. Their birth certificates feature her name twice – once as their mother, and once as New York City Health Commissioner. In that role, Dr. Hamburg brought a new life to a demoralized agency, leading an internationally-recognized initiative that cut the tuberculosis rate by nearly half, and overseeing food safety in our nation’s largest city.
While Hamburg is neither the choice of industry nor the choice of consumer advocates, she represents the kind of change that Obama has come to embody: an independent leader beholden to none of the special interests. With Hamburg at the helm, we can hope that a new day has dawned at FDA and the barbarians at the gate will be kept at bay.


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