Stephen M. Hahn, MD, Confirmed as FDA Commissioner

Stephen M. Hahn, MD, from The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, will take over as Commissioner of the FDA, voted on by the Senate on Thursday.

Stephen M. Hahn, MD, from The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, has been nominated by President Donald Trump and confirmed as Commissioner of the FDA.1

Currently, Hahn is the chief medical executive at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, a role he stepped into in 2018. He was also the chair of radiation oncology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in Philadelphia from 2005 to 2014.2 Additionally, Hahn has authored more than 200 peer-reviewed journal articles and other publications.

“The unprecedented research opportunities that exist today, coupled with our rapidly improving ability to translate these scientific advances into improved treatments for patients, require an experienced and visionary leader at the FDA,” Elaine R. Mardis, PhD, co-executive director of the Institute for Genomic Medicine at Nationwide Children’s Hospital and American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) president, said in a press release.

Hahn has been a member of the AACR since 1999. He served as an inaugural member of the AACR Radiation Science and Medicine Working Group Steering Committee, as well as the AACR Radiation Oncology Task Force. Additionally, he served as cochair of the Workshop on Clinical Development of Drug-Radiotherapy Combinations in 2018, held in partnership with the FDA, the AACR, and the American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO).

“Dr. Hahn, who is board certified in both radiation and medical oncology, is esteemed for the breadth and depth of his scientific knowledge and expertise, and he has consistently advocated for a drug review process at the FDA that is both science-directed and patient-focused,” Margaret Foti, PhD, MD, chief executive officer of the AACR, said in a press release.

Scott Gottlieb, MD, resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, stepped down as FDA commissioner in April. The acting commissioner is currently Norman E. Sharpless, MD, though the Department of Health and Human services said on Friday that Sharpless would be returning to his previously held role as director of the National Cancer Institute (NCI).

“We welcome the nomination of a permanent FDA commissioner at a time when the agency’s role to protect and promote public health is only growing in importance,” Nancy Brown, chief executive of the FDA, said in a statement.

1. AACR Applauds Nomination of Stephen M. Hahn, MD, as FDA Commissioner [news release]. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Published November 1, 2019. Accessed December 12, 2019.
2. The New York Times. Trump to Nominate Stephen Hahn, Cancer Researcher, to Head F.D.A. The New York Times Website. Published November 1, 2019. Accessed December 12, 2019.