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President Obama announces key FDA appointments and tougher food safety measures

by | March 15, 2009
WASHINGTON -- In his weekly address Saturday, March 14, President Obama announced the appointments of Margaret Hamburg as commissioner of the Food & Drug Administration and Joshua Sharfstein as the principal deputy commissioner, as well as the creation of a new Food Safety Working Group.

This Food Safety Working Group will be chaired by the secretary of the Department of Health & Human Services and the secretary of the Department of Agriculture, and it will coordinate with other agencies and senior officials to advise the president on improving coordination throughout the government, examining and upgrading food safety laws, and enforcing laws that will keep the American people safe, according to the FDA website.

Dr. Hamburg is a nationally and internationally recognized leader in public health and medicine, and an authority on global health, public health systems, infectious disease, bioterrorism and emergency preparedness.

She served as the Nuclear Threat Initiative's founding vice president for the Biological Program. Before joining NTI, she was the assistant secretary for planning and evaluation at HHS. Prior to this, she served for six years as the commissioner of health for the city of New York and as the assistant director of the National Institute of Allergy & Infectious Diseases of the National Institutes of Health.

Dr. Sharfstein is commissioner of health for the city of Baltimore. He also serves as chairman of the board of four affiliated non-profit agencies.

He has been recognized as a national leader for his efforts to protect children from unsafe jewelry and over-the-counter medication, and ensuring that Americans with disabilities have access to prescription drugs. He is a member of the Board on Population Health & Public Health Practice of the Institute of Medicine.