U.S. President Barack Obama's choice to head the Food and Drug
Administration, Margaret Hamburg, is a well-known bioterrorism expert
with years of experience in public health.
doctor is currently a senior scientist at the Nuclear Threat Initiative
in Washington, which seeks to reduce the threat of nuclear, biological
and chemical weapons.
In 1991, at age 36, Hamburg became the
youngest-ever health commissioner in New York City. She spent six years
in the position, setting up programs which succeeded in reducing
tuberculosis rates and increasing childhood immunizations.
was also the assistant director of the National Institute of Allergy
and Infectious Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health, and
later served as an assistant health secretary under former U.S.
President Bill Clinton.
If confirmed by the Senate, Hamburg will
take over the FDA at a tough time. The food and drug safety agency has
been plagued by criticism recently in the face of a deadly salmonella
outbreak from peanut products.
President Obama announced
Hamburg's nomination in his weekly address Saturday. He said problems
with the FDA will be resolved under her leadership.
said he has chosen Joshua Sharfstein, the current health commissioner
in the city of Baltimore, in the eastern state of Maryland to be
Sharfstein is a pediatrician who has
challenged the FDA on the safety of over-the-counter medicines for
children. He also served as a health policy aide to Democratic
Congressman Henry Waxman, who plays a leading role in overseeing the
Unlike Hamburg, Sharfstein does not need Senate confirmation.
Some information for this report was provided by Bloomberg, AP and Reuters.