NCI Director von Eschenbach Nominated to Head FDA
Last week President Bush nominated current NCI Director Dr. Andrew C. von Eschenbach to be the next commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Dr. von Eschenbach has served as the interim FDA commissioner since late last September, after Dr. Lester Crawford resigned from the position.
"I am deeply honored to be nominated to head the FDA, and I look forward to continuing to serve our great nation in this capacity," Dr. von Eschenbach said. "As a result of this nomination, I intend to resign my position as NCI director.
"I cannot overstate how much I've enjoyed working at NCI," he said. "The staff at NCI, from the senior leadership on down, are among the most highly talented and dedicated group of people I've ever worked with. NCI is a very special organization, and I will miss my interactions with staff and the committed members of the research and advocacy communities very much."
Dr. von Eschenbach was named NCI Director in 2002, after a 25-year career at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. At the time of his departure from M.D. Anderson, he was Executive Vice President and Chief Academic Officer. He was the founding director of M.D. Anderson's Prostate Cancer Research Program and directed the Genitourinary Cancer Center.
Less than a year after Dr. von Eschenbach's arrival at NCI, the institute announced a challenge goal: to eliminate the suffering and death due to cancer by 2015.
In addition to the recently released NCI strategic plan, Dr. von Eschenbach noted that NCI has launched a number of key initiatives that will play an integral role in achieving the 2015 goal, including the NCI Alliance for Nanotechnology in Cancer, the cancer Biomedical Informatics Grid, the $95 million Community Networks Program to reduce disparities in cancer care and outcomes, and The Cancer Genome Atlas.
"Andy is an inspired choice to provide permanent leadership at this critical agency," Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt said of the nomination. "His career has been defined by his vision for progress in research and passion for the care of patients - two qualities which will serve the agency and the American public well."
Dr. John Niederhuber, NCI deputy director for clinical and translational sciences, has been overseeing the institute's day-to-day operations since Dr. von Eschenbach assumed the interim commissioner role at FDA last fall. He will continue in this role until an acting director of NCI is named.