FDA names chief scientist Bumpus as Woodcock’s successor

FDA names chief scientist Bumpus as Woodcock’s successor

The Food and Drug Administration’s top scientist Namandjé Bumpus will assume the role of principal deputy commissioner when longtime agency leader Janet Woodcock retires from that role in early 2024, according to an announcement Thursday.

Among Bumpus’ priorities when she assumes the role will be “creating a new model” for the FDA’s Office of Regulatory Affairs, the branch that conducts inspections, monitors drug imports, and issues recalls, market withdrawals and safety alerts, Commissioner Robert Califf said in a memo to agency staff.

In moving from the chief scientist role to principal deputy commissioner, “Namandjé will continue to highlight and elevate our role as the premier science-based organization it truly is,” Califf wrote.

Bumpus came to the FDA from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, where she was professor and chairperson of the Department of Pharmacology and Molecular Sciences. She conducted extensive research on drug metabolism and the effects of antivirals on humans and pathogens.

She joined the agency in August 2022, and since, in Califf’s words, “quickly elevated the research foundation, science and innovation that provides vital support for our public health mission.” Califf also credited her with being “a champion of plain language” in public health communication.

Among the key decisions she was involved in was the withdrawal of Makena, Covis Pharma’s controversial drug meant to reduce the risk of preterm birth.

Bumpus will have to fill a big role in succeeding Woodcock, who joined the FDA in 1994 and held powerful positions in the agency’s drug review and commissioner offices. Woodcock also served as an adviser to the White House’s COVID-19 efforts.

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