Margaret Hamburg Picked for Top FDA Post, Over Possible Cardiologists, NYT and WSJ Report

Shelley Wood

March 11, 2009

March 11, 2009 (Washington, DC) — Major media outlets are reporting that US President Barack Obama has chosen a former health commissioner for New York City to be the new FDA commissioner. According to a story first in the Wall Street Journal, then the New York Times, the choice of Dr Margaret Hamburg will be announced later this week [1,2].

Two prominent cardiologists were also considered for the post: Dr Robert Califf (Duke University, Durham, NC) and Dr Steven Nissen (Cleveland Clinic, OH). Back in February, Califf was rumored to be one of just two people still in the running following interviews with the incoming Obama administration, along with Baltimore city health commissioner Joshua Sharfstein. Media reports today state that Sharfstein will become Hamburg's chief deputy at the FDA.

Both Califf and Nissen have been described as contentious choices for the top FDA job. The Times story today says they would have been "divisive candidates, with rival supporting camps. Dr Hamburg’s selection avoids the usual debate between industry and consumer advocates."

The White House has yet to make a formal announcement confirming the FDA choice.

  1. Mundy A. Former New York Health Chief is top candidate to run FDA. Wall Street Journal, March 10, 2009. Available at:

  2. Harris G. Former New York health commissioner picked to lead FDA. New York Times, March 11, 2009. Available at:

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