FDA Appoints Agency's First Chief Scientist

U.S. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Andrew C. von Eschenbach, M.D. yesterday announced the appointment of Frank M. Torti, M.D., M.P.H. as the ageny's Principal Deputy Commissioner and first Chief Scientist. The newly created Chief Scientist position stems from the Food and Drug Administration Amendments Act of 2007. "Dr. Torti's impressive clinical and scientific credentials are an excellent match for the work we do on a daily basis to promote and protect the nation's health as a science-based and science-led agency," Eschenbach said. "FDA's Chief Scientist will ensure that the foundation of the FDA's regulatory structure will always be state-of-the-art science."

As Chief Scientist and a member of the agency's senior leadership team, Torti will support the launch of the FDA Fellowship Program, which has the potential to attract up to 2,000 professionals of varying disciplines for a two year training program. Also, FDA says the new office will work to ensure the quality and regulatory focus of the intramural research programs of the agency, and place special emphasis on the importance of clinical research trials that are a part of the foundation of the agency's regulatory structure.

"I appreciate the confidence and trust that Secretary Leavitt and Commissioner von Eschenbach have placed in me," Torti said. "I look forward to beginning this work at this important moment for the FDA."

A prominent clinician, scientist and researcher in molecular oncology, Torti is currently serving as Charles L. Spurr Professor of Medicine, Chair of the Department of Cancer Biology, and Director of the Comprehensive Cancer Center at Wake Forest University School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, N.C.

He received his bachelor's and master's degrees from Johns Hopkins University, his medical degree from Harvard Medical School, and his Master of Public Health from the Harvard School of Public Health. Torti served as an intern and resident at Beth Israel Hospital in Boston and a fellow of medical oncology at Stanford University, where he subsequently joined the faculty and was tenured. He has written extensively on prostate and bladder cancer, designed and executed a number of cancer clinical trials, and substantially contributed to the understanding of the molecular mechanisms that underlie inflammatory diseases and cancer.

Throughout his career, Torti has served on and chaired a number of national health and medical committees and currently serves on the National Institutes of Health's National Advisory Council for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. He also founded and serves as President of the Cancer Biology Training Consortium, a national society of cancer biology department chairs and program directors. He is the recipient of a National Institutes of Health MERIT Award. Torti will join the FDA in May.

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