President Donald Trump today announced his intent to nominate oncologist and cancer center executive Stephen Hahn to head the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Hahn has spent the past 4 years at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas, and in 2018 was named the institution’s chief medical executive. His research has focused on radiation therapy and the treatment of carcinoma and lung cancer.
Hahn has navigated controversy in his tenures at both MD Anderson and the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, where he ascended the ranks to become chair of radiation oncology. In testimony before Congress in 2009, Hahn apologized to patients and their families after it was revealed that the Philadelphia Veterans Affairs Medical Center had administered radioactive implants for prostate cancer at the wrong dose and even to the wrong organ. This spring, after ethnically Chinese scientists were dismissed from MD Anderson for allegedly breaking federal funding rules, Hahn tried to assure the center’s staff and the media that the dismissals were not racially motivated.
The Trump administration chose Hahn for the post despite urging from advocacy groups and former FDA commissioners to nominate the agency’s acting commissioner, Ned Sharpless, former head of the National Cancer Institute who took the helm at FDA when Scott Gottlieb left in April. Hahn will now face a confirmation hearing before the Senate health committee.