President to nominate oncologist to lead FDA


Stephen M. Hahn, MD, a radiation oncologist and researcher, may soon take the reins of the Food and Drug Administration.

Dr. Stephen Hahn of The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.

Dr. Stephen Hahn

President Trump indicated his intent to nominate Dr. Hahn as FDA Commissioner in a brief Nov.1 statement that outlined Dr. Hahn’s background. Dr. Hahn currently serves as chief medical executive at MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, where he heads the radiology oncology division.

Dr. Hahn specializes in treating lung cancer and sarcoma and has authored 220 peer-reviewed original research articles, according to his biography. He was previously chair of the department of radiology oncology at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, and also served as a senior investigator at the National Cancer Institute.

Dr. Hahn completed his residency in radiation oncology at NCI and his residency in internal medicine at the University of California, San Francisco.

Margaret Foti, PhD, chief executive officer for the American Association for Cancer Research called Dr. Hahn a renowned expert in radiation oncology and research, an experienced and highly effective administrator, and an innovative leader.

“I have seen firsthand Dr. Hahn’s extraordinary dedication and commitment to cancer patients, and the AACR is extremely confident that he will be an outstanding leader for the FDA,” Dr. Foti said in a statement. “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.”

The American Society of Clinical Oncology also congratulated Dr. Hahn on the upcoming nomination, noting that he has a strong grasp of the drug development process and understands the realities of working in a complex clinical care environment.

“The role of FDA commissioner requires a strong commitment to advancing the agency’s mission to protect public health across the United States, and an understanding of how to help speed innovations to get new treatments to patients, while also ensuring the safety and efficacy of the medical products that millions of Americans rely on to manage, treat, and cure their cancer,” the society stated. “ASCO has a long and productive history of collaborating with FDA, including with current acting Commissioner Norman E. “Ned” Sharpless, MD, in support of the agency’s important role in reducing cancer incidence, advancing treatment options, and improving the lives of individuals with cancer. We look forward to continuing our close collaboration to make it possible for every American with cancer to have access to medical products that are safe and effective.”

Dr. Sharpless will return to his position as NCI director; he served as interim FDA commissioner from the April departure of then-FDA commissioner, Scott Gottlieb, MD.

“As one of the nation’s leading oncologists who has devoted his entire professional career to helping patients in the fight against cancer, Ned is returning home to NCI to continue this work and we look forward to working closely with him once again,” Francis S. Collins, MD, director of the National Institutes of Health, said in a statement. “I want to thank Dr. Doug Lowy, principal deputy director of NCI, for having stepped in, once again, to take the helm at NCI and lead the institute so skillfully while Ned was at FDA.”

At press time, neither Dr. Hahn nor MD Anderson Cancer Center had returned messages seeking comment about his nomination.

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