CONFIRMATION OF MARGARET HAMBURG -- (Senate - May 19, 2009)
Mr. KENNEDY. Mr. President, I commend my Senate colleagues for confirming the President's nominee for FDA Commissioner, Dr. Margaret Hamburg. Strong, new leadership is needed to improve the operations and morale of the agency and make the FDA again the world class agency that Americans trust to protect the health of their families.
Dr. Hamburg's expertise in community health, biodefense, and nuclear, biological, and chemical preparedness is well-known and highly respected, and her experience makes her eminently well-qualified to lead the FDA at this difficult time.
As a student and researcher, Dr. Hamburg learned first hand about many of the issues which confront the FDA. Later, at the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, as assistant director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at NIH, and as the commissioner of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, she proved herself to be a brilliant scientist and leader. Her skills were particularly impressive on tuberculosis, which was the leading infectious killer of youths and adults in the city in the 1990s and had become resistant to standard drugs. Within 5 years, the TB rate in New York City fell by 46 percent overall, and 86 percent for the most drug-resistant strains.
Dr. Hamburg's impressive experience was further enhanced by her service as President Clinton's Assistant Secretary for Policy and Evaluation at HHS, as a member of the Institute of Medicine, and as vice president for Biological Programs at the Nuclear Threat Initiative.
Dr. Hamburg will face many challenges as FDA Commissioner but she is obviously well-prepared to deal with them. She has impressive experience in both clinical practice and research, and her background makes her ideal to lead the FDA as it combats food-borne illnesses, works with other agencies to combat disease outbreaks, and protects our food, drugs, and medical devices. Her confirmation marks the beginning of a welcome new era at FDA, and I look forward very much to working with her.
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