WASHINGTON, D.C.--FDA Commissioner David Kessler told staff in a memo today that he will leave the agency late next month. Because his departure will likely come before a successor is selected by the White House and confirmed by Congress, Kessler has tapped Michael Friedman, FDA's deputy commissioner for operations, to be acting commissioner.
As reported earlier this week in ScienceNOW, Kessler has been offered the deanship of Yale University's School of Medicine. Sources say Kessler is also in the running for the deanship of the University of California, San Francisco, School of Medicine. Friedman, meanwhile, has spearheaded several high-profile FDA efforts, including its current talks with industry and Congress over a second User Fee Act to bring in funds to increase drug review staff and cut approval time. Kessler lured Friedman, a clinical oncologist, from the National Cancer Institute in October 1995, in part to help review and beef up FDA science. Considered the leading internal candidate for Kessler's job, Friedman told Science in a recent interview that the FDA "needs more effective linkages with scientists outside the agency."