New York, NY, July 31, 2015—Margaret A. Hamburg, M.D., former commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), has been elected to the Commonwealth Fund Board of Directors, effective immediately. She currently serves as foreign secretary for the National Academy of Medicine (formerly the Institute of Medicine) and sits on several other boards and advisory committees.
Hamburg was appointed FDA commissioner in May 2009, the second woman to hold the position, and served until April 2015. One of the longest serving commissioners at the FDA, during her tenure she oversaw initiatives to modernize the food safety system to reduce foodborne illness, to secure a safer globalized food and medical product supply chain, to expedite approvals for innovative therapies targeting unmet clinical needs, and to reduce death and disease caused by tobacco.
“Margaret Hamburg brings to the Commonwealth Fund’s Board a wealth of experience and deep commitment to improving health and health care,” said Board chairman Benjamin K. Chu, M.D., group president of Kaiser Foundation Health Plan and Hospitals in Southern California and Georgia. “Her knowledge of health care issues will be an invaluable asset to the organization’s continuing efforts to monitor health care reforms locally, nationally, and internationally and to bring best practices to benefit all Americans.”
Hamburg served as commissioner of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene from 1991 to 1997. Her many accomplishments in that position include promoting needle-exchange programs to reduce the spread of HIV, initiating the first public health bioterrorism program in the nation, and creating a program to reduce the resurgence of tuberculosis, an effort that became a model for health departments worldwide.
“We are very fortunate to be able to benefit from Margaret Hamburg’s broad experience as an innovative leader in medicine and public health as The Commonwealth Fund continues its work to move our country toward a high-performance health system,” said Commonwealth Fund President David Blumenthal, M.D.
Prior to serving as FDA commissioner, Hamburg was vice president for biological programs (2001–05) and senior scientist (2005–09) at the Nuclear Threat Initiative, where she worked on reforms to reduce the dangers associated with modern bioterrorism and infectious diseases such as pandemic flu. She also served as assistant secretary for policy and evaluation in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. When Hamburg was elected to the Institute of Medicine in 1994, she was one of the youngest people to achieve that distinction. She received her medical degree from Harvard Medical School.