Senate confirms Califf as next FDA head

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

The Senate voted 89-4 today to confirm Robert Califf, MD, as the next commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Califf takes over the job from Margaret Hamburg, who left the agency in March. The FDA’s chief scientist, Stephen Ostroff, has served as acting commissioner since her departure.

Prior to joining the FDA, Califf, a professor of medicine in the Duke University School of Medicine, served as vice chancellor of clinical and translational research at Duke, executive director and founder of the Duke Clinical Research Institute (DCRI), and director of the Duke Translational Medicine Institute. During his time at Duke, Califf led many landmark clinical trials in cardiovascular disease. He is considered an international leader in the fields of health outcomes, quality of care, and medical economics. He is one of the nation’s leaders in the growing field of translational research, which is key to translating scientific advances into clinical care.

“It’s a proud day for the DCRI and Duke,” said DCRI Executive Director Eric Peterson, MD, MPH. “So many of us have had the privilege to work side by side with Dr. Califf through the years, and today marks another milestone in his storied career as a champion for improving patient care around the world. Dr. Califf has devoted his life to innovations in clinical research, and we look forward to his contribution to advancing and protecting our nation’s public health.”

Califf was a member of the Institute of Medicine (IOM) committees that recommended Medicare coverage of clinical trials and the removal of ephedra from the market and of the IOM’s Committee on Identifying and Preventing Medication Errors. He also served as a member of the FDA Cardiorenal Advisory Panel and FDA Science Board’s Subcommittee on Science and Technology. Currently, he is a member of the IOM Policy Committee and liaison to the Forum in Drug Discovery, Development, and Translation.

President Obama nominated Califf for the position in September of last year. Califf has served as the FDA’s deputy commissioner for medical devices and tobacco since February 2015.

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