White House Considering Minority Candidates for FDA Commissioner
The White House has reportedly broadened its potential picks for permanent FDA commissioner to include several minority women.
Besides current acting commissioner Janet Woodcock, who is White, President Biden is believed to be considering a list of women of various ethnic backgrounds, including:
- Former Chinese-American FDA official, Florence Houn, who worked with the agency for 14 years in senior positions related to vaccine research and review and drug evaluations;
- Katherine Luzuriaga, the director of the University of Massachusetts’ Center for Clinical and Translational Science, who is a Filipina-American physician-scientist;
- Michelle McMurry-Heath, an African-American doctor and former Johnson & Johnson executive who currently serves as the president and CEO of the Biotechnology Innovation Organization; and
- Former FDA official Luciana Borio, a Brazilian-American infectious disease physician and current vice president of In-Q-Tel, a nonprofit venture capitalist firm that invests in tech startups.
The candidate list also includes Joshua Sharfstein, former FDA principal deputy commissioner, who now is the vice dean for Public Health Practice and Community Engagement at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
Another former FDA official, Gayatri Rao, has reportedly been pushed by patient advocacy groups who believe the Indian-American should get the nomination. She formerly headed the agency’s Office of Orphan Products Development, worked for a time as its associate chief counsel and is now a vice president at Rocket Pharmaceuticals.
The White House would not comment on potential nominees or its timing for making a nomination but it’s possible that the holdup stems from federal legislation that prevents people who have served as acting commissioners from being nominated to the permanent position until 90 days after an administration’s inauguration. Woodcock would become eligible for nomination on April 20.