FDA Commissioner to resign on inauguration day

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FDA Commissioner Dr. Andrew von Eschenbach. Image Source: Dailylife  

FDA Commissioner Andrew von Eschenbach, MD has notified his staff that he plans to resign, effective Jan. 20, 2009—the date of President-elect Barack Obama's inauguration.

In an internal message sent Monday to FDA officials, von Eschenbach said he would work closely with President-elect Obama's transition team “to ensure a seamless change in political leadership at the agency. As with any transition, there will likely be changes for other senior managers as well, although all current Deputy Commissioners and the Chief of Staff are career civil servants who have served me and the FDA well,” the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported.

While von Eschenbach had been expected to leave the FDA, he had not given a specific date.

“I am extremely proud of the progress we have made together,” wrote von Eschenbach. “Resources are on a dramatic upward trajectory, and the gleaming new buildings and laboratories at our White Oak campus will make possible synergies and collaboration that were long beyond our reach.” The White Oak campus, in a Maryland suburb of Washington, D.C., will serve as the FDA's new headquarters and is being dedicated this week.

The WSJ said that the departure of von Eschenbach will intensify the push to nominate a new FDA leader, which has become the focus of lobbying by industry, members of Congress, consumer-safety advocates and women’s groups.