The U.S. Food and Drug Administration's commissioner Dr. Margaret Hamburg will be resigning from her job sometime in March this year. Dr. Hamburg was in service for about 6 years.
President Barack Obama's nomination of Hamburg as the FDA's commissioner was confirmed by the U.S. Senate in May 2009, and she was elected as the 21st commissioner of the agency. She was the second woman to be nominated for the position.
During her tenure, Hamburg was committed to strengthening the FDA's policies and programs, moves which enabled the federal agency to promote and protect public health.
"Strengthening FDA's programs and policies will help us protect the safety of the food supply, give the public access to safe and effective medical products, find novel ways to prevent illness and promote health, and be transparent in explaining our decision-making," says Hamburg. "A strong FDA is an agency that the American public can count on."
She is also one of the longest-serving commissioners in the FDA's history. As the commissioner of the federal agency she had the duty to oversee public health initiatives in a wide range of areas that included food safety, tobacco control and approval of new medicines.
As commissioner, Hamburg implemented the rule that required all restaurants to display calorie counts on menus. She also further limited trans-fat use in food. Trans fat, also called trans-fatty acids, both raises your LDL ("bad") cholesterol and lowers your HDL ("good") cholesterol. According to the FDA, a high LDL cholesterol level in combination with a low HDL cholesterol level increases your risk of heart disease. Most trans fat is formed through an industrial process that adds hydrogen to vegetable oil, which causes the oil to become solid at room temperature.
While in the role, Hamburg also came across a number of challenges relating to public health concerns such as the latest outbreak of Ebola in early 2014, along with an outbreak of swine flu, or H1N1, as well as some other infectious diseases, development of e-cigarettes, painkiller abuse and more.
In 2014, Forbes magazine named Hamburg the 51st most powerful woman in the world.
The FDA's chief scientist, Dr. Stephen Ostroff, will fill Hamburg's position till a new commissioner has been named. Recently, the FDA had named Dr. Robert Califf, who is a researcher at the Duke University and also a prominent cardiologist, to oversee several FDA policies. Experts suggest that Califf may be soon named the successor to Hamburg.