President Obama Announces FDA Appointments


As Father-in-Chief, President Barack Obama has already voiced his concerns about the safety of our food supply—and how it affects his family personally.


On Saturday, he announced the appointments of Margaret Hamburg, MD, as FDA commissioner, and Joshua M. Sharfstein, MD, as principal deputy commissioner.

“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,” Obama said. “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.”

The president also praised Dr. Sharfstein, Baltimore’s health commissioner, for his national efforts to “protect children from unsafe over-the-counter cough and cold medications. And he’s designed an award-winning program to ensure that Americans with disabilities had access to prescription drugs.”


Obama has also created a new Food Safety Working Group, to be chaired by the Secretaries of Health and Human Services and Agriculture. The group will coordinate with other agencies and senior officials to upgrade and enforce food safety laws.

In addition, the president announced two other measures to protect the American people:

  1. The Department of Agriculture will close a loophole to prevent diseased cows from entering the food supply—one of organic consumers’ longstanding “beefs.”
  2. The government will substantially invest in the FDA to increase the number of food inspectors and modernize food safety labs.

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