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Margaret Hamburg, Commissioner, Food and Drug Administration Margaret Hamburg, Commissioner, Food and Drug Administration

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Health and Human Services Department

Margaret Hamburg, Commissioner, Food and Drug Administration

In her four years as FDA commissioner, Hamburg says she has focused the department on two main goals: becoming less "insular" and adopting "regulatory science." The agency regulates products from more than 150 countries. Hamburg has tried to tackle the increased oversight needs through engagement with other countries—the FDA now has a presence on every continent—and with the scientific community. Two laws have helped. The Food Safety Modernization Act of 2011 authorizes the FDA to recall contaminated food, and the Safety and Innovation Act of 2012 allows it to collect additional fees to fund drug and medical-device reviews. Hamburg, 57, grew up on the Stanford University campus, where her parents—both doctors—worked. She got her own M.D. from Harvard after graduating from Radcliffe College. Hamburg was training at Weill Cornell Medical College when she felt compelled to work in policy, frustrated by her limited impact as a front-line doctor during the HIV/AIDS epidemic of the 1980s. Moving to Washington, she worked in the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion during the Reagan administration and was an assistant director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases during President George H.W. Bush's tenure. Then she returned to New York as the city's health chief. During the Clinton administration, Hamburg was the assistant secretary for policy and evaluation at Health and Human Services.

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