FDA Commissioner Stepping Down

FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg, MD, sent an email to staffers Thursday announcing her decision to depart the post at the end of March. She's run the agency since 2009.

The head of the Food and Drug Administration will step down next month.

Commissioner Margaret Hamburg, MD, sent an email to staffers Thursday announcing her decision, according to a report in The New York Times.

According to the Times, Hamburg called the position “the most rewarding of my career,” and said the decision to leave the agency was not easy.

Stephen Ostroff, the FDA’s chief scientist, will serve as acting commissioner when Hamburg leaves at the end of March.

Hamburg has been at the head of the agency since 2009. During that period, she’s worked to diminish a backlog in drug approvals. Last year, the agency approved 51 drugs, which Hamburg said was the highest total in nearly 20 years.

Prior to joining the agency, she was health commissioner for the City of New York. In 2001, she became vice president for biological programs at the Nuclear Threat Initiative, a foundation that aims to reduce the danger posed by nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons.

The news comes as President Obama is considering shifting responsibility for food safety regulation away from the FDA and giving it to a new independent agency within the Department of Health and Senior Services. The proposal was contained within Obama’s Fiscal Year 2016 budget proposal.