Robert Califf to resign as US FDA commissioner

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Robert Califf is to step down as US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) commissioner upon the inauguration of Donald Trump as US President on 20 January 2017. Democrat Califf, who was appointed to the post in September 2016 by Barack Obama, is required to resign along with other presidential appointees.

Califf, a cardiologist and researcher, had received endorsement from The American College of Cardiology, the New England Journal of Medicine and the American Heart Association, as well as others.

Califf’s tenure was not without controversy, with his ties to the pharmaceutical industry questioned by US senator and former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. Senator Edward Markey expressed concern that Califf “did not give [him] confidence” that the FDA would act appropriately to quell the growing US opioid epidemic under his sterwardship.

Current deputy commissioner Stephen Ostroff is likely to serve as commissioner on a deputy basis, as he did between Califf’s appointment and former commissioner Margaret Hamburg’s departure.

According to Politico, venture capitalist Scott Gottlieb—a past FDA deputy commissioner—is likely to take over the position on a long-term basis. Other names suggested by the Wall Street Journal include Jim O’Neill, managing director of Mithril Capital Management and Balaji Srinivasan, founder of Counsyl, a genetic-counselling firm.