Califf nominated as FDA’s incoming commissioner

WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Nov. 12, the White House issued a statement from President Joe…

WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Nov. 12, the White House issued a statement from President Joe Biden on his intentions to nominate Robert Califf, MD MACC, as commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration. Dr. Califf previously served as FDA Commissioner from 2016 to 2017.

“I first want to thank Dr. Janet Woodcock for her leadership over the last year,” Biden said in the statement. “She has done an incredible job leading the agency during what has been a busy and challenging time, and both she and the FDA career staff have worked hard and followed the science to ensure the American public can trust the decisions being made by the FDA.”

Califf’s background includes nearly 40 years of experience and international recognition in clinical trial research, health disparities, healthcare quality and cardiovascular medicine, according to the White House statement.

Dr. Robert Califf, nominated for FDA Commissioner by the Biden administration.Dr. Robert Califf, nominated for FDA Commissioner by the Biden administration. (Source: American Feed Industry Association)

He is currently an adjunct professor of medicine at Duke University, where he founded the Duke Clinical Research Institute. Califf also serves as head of clinical policy at Verily Life Sciences. His career incudes more than 1,200 peer-reviewed publications.

The American Feed Industry Association (AFIA) met the news with congratulations.

“On behalf of the US animal food industry, we congratulate Dr. Robert Califf for his nomination to serve as head of the Biden administration’s Food and Drug Administration and look forward to working with him on animal food industry priorities,” said Constance Cullman, president and chief executive officer of AFIA. “Of great importance is approving innovative feed ingredients that allow our industry to deliver quality nutrition to domestic livestock and pets and reduce our environmental impact.”

Cullman also noted some priorities for the pet food and feed industry she hopes will be addressed by the FDA moving forward. According to the AFIA, it currently takes an average of three-to-five years for ingredients to be approved through the FDA’s rigorous review process. 

“For each year of delay [in ingredient approvals], it costs companies $1.75 million annually in revenue,” Cullman said. “As a medical doctor, Dr. Califf can appreciate that the science in animal nutrition is progressing just as quickly as the science in modern medicine, and producers need these ingredients to help their domestic livestock reach their full potential.

“The FDA also continues to stand behind an outdated policy that regulates some ingredients as ‘drugs,’ versus ‘feed,’ which has left the United States uncompetitive in the global landscape, as other countries are moving forward in record time with technologies that will enable them to achieve their climate goals.

“Dr. Califf will be instrumental in writing the next chapter in US history by helping us not only to end this pandemic, but to provide the kind of thought leadership we need to play the long-game in many areas touched by food and agriculture,” Cullman concluded. “We urge the Senate to act quickly on his nomination.”

Read more about personnel changes throughout the industry.