Commissioner of Food and Drugs

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Commissioner of Food and Drugs
Robert Califf

since February 24, 2016
Department of the Health and Human Services
Reports to Secretary of the Health and Human Services
Term length No fixed term as known.

The Commissioner of Food and Drugs is the head of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), an agency of the United States Department of Health and Human Services. The commissioner is appointed by the president of the United States with the advice and consent of the Senate. The commissioner reports to the Secretary of Health and Human Services.

Due to frequent controversies involving the FDA, appointments are not always prompt and the agency is often headed by an acting commissioner. For example, Andrew von Eschenbach's appointment was held up by senators who objected to the FDA's refusal to allow emergency contraception to be sold over the counter.

The commissioner has frequently been a physician, but this is not a requirement for the post.

On February 24, 2016, the United States Senate confirmed Robert Califf as Commissioner of the FDA to succeed Acting Commissioner Stephen Ostroff.[1]

List of Commissioners[edit]

No. Name Portrait Took Office Left Office President served under Notable for
1 Harvey Washington Wiley, M.D. Portrait of Dr. Harvey W. Wiley.jpg January 1, 1907 March 15, 1912 Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft Chemist; advocacy of the passage of the Pure Food and Drug Act in 1906; subsequent work at Good Housekeeping Institute laboratories
2 Carl L. Alsberg M.D. December 16, 1912 July 15, 1921 William Howard Taft, Woodrow Wilson, Warren G. Harding
3 Walter Gilbert Campbell 7/16/1921 6/30/1924 Warren G. Harding, Calvin Coolidge
4 Charles Albert Browne, Jr. Ph.D. 7/1/1924 6/30/1927 Calvin Coolidge
3[2] Walter Gilbert Campbell 7/1/1927 4/30/1944 Calvin Coolidge, Herbert Hoover, Franklin D. Roosevelt
5 Paul B. Dunbar, Ph.D. 5/6/1944 5/31/1951 Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S Truman
6 Charles W. Crawford 6/1/1951 7/31/1954 Harry S Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower
7 George P. Larrick 8/12/1954 12/27/1965 Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson
8 James Lee Goddard, M.D. 1/17/1966 7/1/1968 Lyndon B. Johnson
9 Herbert Leonard Ley, Jr., M.D. 7/1/1968 12/12/1969 Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard M. Nixon
10 Charles C. Edwards, M.D. 12/13/1969 3/15/1973 Richard M. Nixon
11 Alexander Mackay Schmidt, M.D. 7/20/1973 11/30/1976 Richard M. Nixon, Gerald R. Ford
12 Donald Kennedy, Ph.D. Donald Kennedy photo.png 4/4/1977 6/30/1979 Jimmy Carter
13 Jere Edwin Goyan, Ph.D. 10/21/1979 1/20/1981 Jimmy Carter
14 Arthur Hull Hayes Jr., M.D. 4/13/1981 9/11/1983 Ronald Reagan
15 Frank Edward Young, M.D., Ph.D. 7/15/1984 12/17/1989 Ronald Reagan
16 David Aaron Kessler, M.D. DavidAaronKesslerApr2009.jpg 11/8/1990 2/28/1997 George H. W. Bush

Bill Clinton

17 Jane Ellen Henney, M.D. 1/17/99 1/19/2001 Bill Clinton
18 Mark Barr McClellan, M.D., Ph.D MarkMcClellan.jpg 11/14/2002 3/26/2004 George W. Bush
19 Lester Mills Crawford, D.V.M., Ph.D. Crawford lm.jpg 7/18/2005 9/23/2005 George W. Bush Charged with conflict of interest and lying about stock he and his wife owned in companies regulated by FDA.[3]
20 Andrew C. von Eschenbach, M.D. AVonEchenbach2.jpg 12/13/2006 1/20/2009 George W. Bush Member of the board of directors of BioTime (NYSE MKTBTX), a biotechnology and regenerative medicine company.
21 Margaret A. Hamburg, M.D. Margaret Hamburg official portrait.jpg 5/22/2009 4/1/2015 Barack Obama
22 Robert Califf, M.D. Robert Califf.jpg 2/22/2016 Present Barack Obama

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "FDA Statement on Senate Confirmation of Dr. Robert M. Califf". United States Food and Drug Administration. February 24, 2016. 
  2. ^ Campbell had previously served as Commissioner
  3. ^ "Former F.D.A. Chief Is Charged With Conflict". New York Times. Retrieved 30 Mar 2014.