Former Perelman School of Medicine professor Stephen Hahn was nominated by the Trump administration to lead the Food and Drug Administration.
If confirmed by the Senate, Hahn will replace Norman Sharpless as acting commissioner of the FDA. Sharpless assumed the position after Scott Gottlieb stepped down last April, according to The New York Times. The Department of Health and Human Services says Sharpless will reassume his position as director of the National Cancer Institute, which he held before leading the FDA, The New York Times reported.
According to the White House announcement, Hahn spent 18 years as a Penn professor, where he specialized in treating lung cancer and sarcoma with radiation oncology. He chaired the Medical School's department of radiation oncology between 2005 and 2014. Before coming to Penn, Hahn received his medical degree from The Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University and worked at the National Cancer Institute from 1989 to 1996, according to the announcement.
After leaving Penn in 2014, Hahn spent three years working at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. While at M.D. Anderson, Hahn served as chairman of the radiation oncology department from 2015 to 2017, the hospital's chief operating officer in 2017, and the chief medical executive in 2018. The New York Times reported his work at M.D. Anderson helped return the hospital to financial stability after a series of controversies and issues surrounding the hospital’s previous president.
“He has the ability to stand up, take responsibility, understand the problem and fix the problem so it won’t happen again, and help everybody through that,” Theodore DeWeese, vice dean for clinical affairs at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, told The New York Times.
Hahn is a registered Republican who has donated to Republican candidates and groups in the past, the Washington Post reported. However, he did not donate to the Trump campaign, according to the New York Times.
While Hahn has little policy experience, he is described by colleagues as an "energetic consensus-builder with a disarming, folksy manner," the Washington Post reported. Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander, who is also the chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, said these qualities will be of vital importance if Hahn is confirmed.
"Having the right person to lead the FDA is critical to virtually every American," Alexander said in a statement. "The FDA is responsible for ensuring drugs and medical devices that patients rely on are safe and effective, protecting the nation's food supply, regulating tobacco products, and implementing 21st-century cures and new federal laws to help combat the opioid crisis. I look forward to meeting with Dr. Hahn and scheduling a hearing to consider his nomination."