Yale Medical School Courts Kessler

WASHINGTON, D.C.--ScienceNOW has learned that David Kessler, commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), has been offered the deanship at Yale University's School of Medicine.

In 6 hectic years at FDA, Kessler cut drug approval times, led campaigns to regulate nicotine as an addictive drug and to improve food labeling, and fought to strengthen FDA science. Last month, he announced his intention to step down once President Clinton nominates his successor at the agency.

At Yale, the 45-year-old Kessler would oversee 4000 faculty and staff, 1000 students, and an annual budget of $434 million, of which $200 million goes to research--roughly equivalent to FDA's research budget. Kessler, trained as a physician and lawyer, would succeed physician Gerard Burrow, who last March announced plans to resign after a successor was found. Kessler and Yale officials declined comment.

Yale faculty members who had heard about the offer to Kessler expressed enthusiasm for having Kessler as a boss. Kessler's experience with industry and tight FDA budgets is valuable in a time when medical schools are being forced to cut costs, says cell biologist Thomas Lentz, the medical school's assistant dean for admissions. "The school does need some leadership now," he says. "It's up to us to convince him to come."