There has been no replacement selected, but Dr. Stephen Ostroff the chief scientist with the FDA will fill the top spot temporarily while waiting for the approval from Congress for a new commissioner for the agency.
Dr. Hamburg has been the head of the FDA since 2009 at the onset of the Obama administration. In a way, her resignation after serving close to her complete term does not come as any big surprise, given she recently chose Duke University’s Dr. Robert Cahill as her deputy commissioner for tobacco and medical products. Is it is thought that Cahill will be the successor to Hamburg.
Dr. Cahill has been know for a long time as someone interested in the top job at the FDA and considered for the spot at least one time previously; the time the job went to Hamburg.
The post requires approval from Congress, often a hurdle in these political times of partisanship. However, in Dr. Cahill in this instance they would be considering a medical figure that is respected widely in both ends of the scientific spectrum although one who is particularly close to pharmaceuticals.
In some recent work by Dr. Cahill, he headed the Clinical Research Institute at Duke, which has carried out clinical studies for a huge range of pharmaceutical companies.
During her 6 plus years of tenure, Dr. Hamburg has presided over some contentious issues, such as the Plan B morning after approval. Another challenge that presented itself was the hundreds of people who died from compounded drugs – steroids that had been mixed at a local pharmacy.
People died due to fungal infections that the products caused and criminal cases against one of the operators have ensued.
She has also presided over something that could be considered scandalous when a group of FDA Center for Devices and Radiological Health started making reports for Congress.