While the confirmation challenges continue, at least one high-level science and technology appointee is stepping down. Margaret Hamburg, Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, will step down at the end of next month (H/T ScienceInsider). Even with slightly less than two years remaining in the Obama Administration, there is a chance Dr. Hamburg’s successor may not be confirmed before a new President is sworn in. (I am encouraged by indications that a nominee has already been identified.)
Hamburg’s tenure is one of the longest in the agency’s history. When she took over, the agency was struggling, with ethical challenges over drug approvals. The agency is currently in the middle of regulatory changes for food safety oversight and medical device approvals, and it has not been perfect. There were complaints over the agency’s inaction over compounding pharmacies (which are not presently regulated by the FDA), and Hamburg was overruled by Health and Human Services Secretary Sebelius over Plan B emergency contraception (though the courts eventually sided with the FDA).