The New Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration Has an Extensive Relationship With Higher Education

Margaret A. Hamburg is President Obama’s pick to head the Food and Drug Administration. She is an expert on public health and the health threats of bioterrorism. She served as the youngest commissioner of health in the history of New York City and is widely credited with stemming an outbreak of tuberculosis that had occurred in the city during the early 1990s. In this period she taught at the medical schools of Columbia University and Cornell University.

Hamburg is a graduate of Radcliffe College and earned her medical degree at Harvard. After completing medical school, she later conducted research in neuroscience at Rockefeller University and in neuropharmacology at the National Institutes of Health.

In 1997 she was appointed by President Clinton as assistant secretary for policy and evaluation at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. When the GOP took over the federal administration, Hamburg took a position at the Nuclear Threat Initiative, a foundation dedicated to lessening the threat to public safety posed by weapons of mass destruction.

Like President Obama, Dr. Hamburg is biracial. Her father is Jewish and her mother is African American. Her father and mother are both physicians. Her mother was one of the first black students to enroll at Vassar College.

Margaret Hamburg grew up on the campus of Stanford University where both of her parents were on the faculty. Margaret Hamburg, as well as both of her parents, are fellows of the Institute of Medicine.