FDA chief to step down in March

Washington CNN  — 

The head of the Food and Drug Administration announced Thursday in an email to staff that she is stepping down after six years leading the agency.

FDA Commissioner Margaret “Peggy” Ann Hamburg has overseen a slew of public health regulations ranging from food safety improvements to tobacco control since the Senate confirmed her to the agency’s top post in May 2009 in Obama’s first months in office. Stephen Ostroff, the agency’s chief scientist, will serve as acting commissioner once she leaves her post in March, Hamburg said in the email to staff obtained by CNN.

Hamburg called her tenure at the helm of the agency a “privilege” and said she made her decision to resign with “mixed emotions.”

“As you can imagine, this decision was not easy. My tenure leading this Agency has been the most rewarding of my career, and that is due in no small part to all of you - the dedicated and hard-working people that make up the heart of this Agency,” Hamburg wrote. “While there is still work ahead (and there always will be), I know that I am leaving the agency well-positioned to fulfill its responsibilities to the American public with great success.”

Hamburg also ticked off the FDA’s successes in her six years leading the agency: modernizing food safety, improving the review process for medical drugs and strengthening anti-tobacco efforts.

“As Commissioner, my goal has been to shape and support an FDA that is well-equipped to meet the challenges posed by scientific innovation, globalization, the increasing breadth and complexity of the products that we regulate, and our new expanding legal authorities,” Hamburg said. “We can honestly say that our collective efforts have improved the health, safety and quality of life of the American people.”

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Secretary of Health Sylvia Burwell praised Hamburg for her “dedicated service” in a statement Thursday and lauded her accomplishments as “incredible” and “historic.”

“From keeping our food supply safe to significant advancements in biomedical innovation to the quickly facilitating the availability of critical products to help fight Ebola, Peggy’s tireless leadership has impacted millions of people across this country,” Burwell said. ”
“The American people and this Department have been well served by Peggy’s tenure at the FDA.”