Stephen Hahn Confirmed as FDA Commissioner

Posted December 17, 2019

The U.S. Senate confirmed Stephen Hahn, chief medical executive of the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, TX, as the new Food and Drug Administration (FDA) commissioner. This will be Hahn’s first government post for Hahn, a radiation oncologist and educator.

Department of Health & Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said in a statement that Dr. Hahn “brings an impressive set of scientific and leadership qualifications to the job.”

In testimony before the Senate in November, Hahn described the need for the FDA to maintain the talent, expertise, and infrastructure needed to keep up with the pace of advancement in science and technology.

“We are at a crucial and exciting time in American medicine and science, one in which the discoveries are dramatic and the translation of science into better medical products for patients is occurring at an ever more rapid pace,” Hahn said. “We are also approaching a time when new and improved ways of evaluating data will allow us to expedite innovation, better evaluate new products and ensure food safety, all with even greater accuracy and certainty. … It is crucial that the FDA encourage innovation and competition so that Americans have access to a continuously improving universe of treatments.”

Hahn will take over as the permanent FDA commissioner for Brett Giroir, assistant secretary for health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, who became acting commissioner in November after National Cancer Institute Director Norman Sharpless’s term as acting commissioner expired.

The previous permanent FDA commissioner, Scott Gottlieb, stepped down in April. During his two-year tenure, Gottlieb was lauded for his work to streamline the regulation of medical devices, partnering with industry to help advance new technologies while maintaining patient safety.