NCI Director Assumes Role as Acting FDA Commissioner
National Cancer Institute (NCI) Director Dr. Andrew C. von Eschenbach was named by President George W. Bush last Friday to assume the role of acting commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Dr. von Eschenbach also will continue in his role as NCI director.
"I am excited and eager to accept the challenge," Dr. von Eschenbach said. "The FDA has a critical mission in protecting and improving the health of the American people.
"With the leadership and support of Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt, I will work to ensure an orderly transition to new, permanent leadership at FDA, while continuing my commitment to NCI."
The appointment of Dr. von Eschenbach to acting FDA commissioner followed the resignation from that position by Dr. Lester Crawford. In addition to his time as the FDA commissioner, Dr. Crawford also served as deputy commissioner and acting commissioner at the agency.
Prior to accepting the appointment to lead NCI in January 2002, Dr. von Eschenbach, a renowned urologic oncologist, served as executive vice president and chief academic officer of the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. In his 26-year career at M.D. Anderson, he was instrumental in fostering integrated research programs in the biology, epidemiology, prevention, and treatment of prostate cancer.
At NCI, he has been a strong proponent of a more collaborative, team-science approach to research and the movement toward individualized medicine based on the growing understanding of the molecular underpinnings of many diseases.
With more than 3 years under his belt as NCI director, Dr. von Eschenbach is optimistic about the new appointment.
"When I came to NCI in 2002, I made this our challenge goal: to eliminate the suffering and death due to cancer by 2015," he said. "I will work to ensure that this critically important work continues at NCI, even as the crucial initiatives at FDA continue unabated during this time of transition."
Other factors will ensure that the change will in no way hamper NCI's and FDA's ability to continue their work.
"It is the strong professionalism in the leadership and staff at both organizations that will enable me to carry out the dual roles," Dr. von Eschenbach explained.
"I have the utmost confidence in FDA staff members' skill and commitment," he continued. "The caliber of the staffs at both NCI and FDA will allow the organizations to continue their important public service during this time of transition at FDA, and I am deeply grateful for all of their contributions."
By Carmen Phillips