Careers and Workforce

New Acting Director of FDA Chosen

By Pan Demetrakakes, Senior Editor

Mar 13, 2019

The FDA has named an acting commissioner to replace Scott Gottlieb, who announced last week his intention to resign after two years at the agency.

The interim head will be Dr. Norman “Ned” Sharpless, now head of the National Cancer Institute. Sharpless, an oncologist, was known for advocacy for cancer research during his 18 months as institute director.

Gottlieb is leaving within weeks, after two years heading the FDA, to spend more time with his family. He mostly made his mark with actions relating to pharmaceuticals and tobacco, but during his tenure, the FDA did carry forward a couple of food-labeling initiatives, inherited from the Obama administration, on genetically modified food and enhancements to the Nutrition Facts panel.

Sharpless was named as interim FDA head on March 12 by Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar at a hearing before a U.S. House subcommittee. The Washington Post reports that he may be considered a candidate for permanent FDA director.