Stephen Hahn, 'clear frontrunner' for FDA commish job, has met with Trump — reports
MD Anderson official Stephen Hahn is now reportedly a top candidate to lead the FDA, possibly replacing acting commissioner — and crowd favorite — Ned Sharpless.
Hahn, chief medical executive and chief of radiation oncology at the Houston-based cancer center, made the leap from unnamed candidate to top contender virtually overnight, with multiple news outlets getting word that he’s the only finalist out of three to meet with President Donald Trump about a potential nomination. Politico Pro reported that he’s a “clear frontrunner” and “will be the nominee pending a successful background check” citing sources, just one day after the Wall Street Journal first identified him in the running.
An administration official told the Washington Post the decision has not been made but Hahn “is a strong candidate.”
Harvard dermatology professor Alexa Boer Kimball has also surfaced as an apparent rival to Sharpless, the former director of the National Cancer Institute.
Sharpless was widely seen as Scott Gottlieb’s chosen successor after the popular agency chief abruptly handed in his resignation in March. Four other former heads of the FDA also voiced their support for Sharpless alongside nonprofit patient advocacy groups.
But HHS Secretary Alex Azar might want a bigger hand in the pick, unnamed attorneys on the hill told STAT.
Hahn spent nine years at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine before joining MD Anderson in 2015 amid an institution-wide reform. Prior to that, his postgraduate training had taken him to Sharpless’ old digs at NCI in Bethesda, MD, completing a clinical residency and clinical fellowship.
That appeared to be the closest Hahn ever got to Washington, having dedicated himself to research since then. His expertise is in lung cancer and sarcoma, with a particular focus on the chemical signals within the tumor environment and proton therapy, according to a Q&A from MD Anderson.
In that exchange from 2017, Hahn was asked to summarize himself in one word:
What word best describes you?
The deadline for nominating a new commissioner of food and drugs is November 1 to comply with a federal law that mandates vacancies to be filled within 210 days.