Acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock has picked up a powerful endorsement in a public campaign for President Joe Biden to delete the “acting” part of her title. Nobel laureate James Allison and Mikael Dolsten, CSO of Pfizer, joined a virtual Who’s Who of 95 cancer researchers, clinicians, and advocates in signing a public letter urging Biden to nominate Woodcock as FDA commissioner.
Allison and Dolsten served as members of NCI’s Cancer Moonshot Blue Ribbon Panel that advised an initiative Biden led during the Obama administration. Dolsten’s position at Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE) is not listed on the letter which identifies him as “professor” and a member of the Moonshot panel.
Woodcock has also been endorsed by rare disease patient advocates and is receiving behind the scenes backing from biopharmaceutical companies and their trade associations.
The campaign to influence Biden’s FDA commissioner choice is unusually public. In addition to the letters pushing for Woodcock, the virtues of another candidate, Joshua Sharfstein, have been extolled in public letters and commentaries. Sharfstein is vice dean for public health practice and community engagement at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and a former principal deputy FDA commissioner.
The letter from the cancer community, published Thursday in The Washington Post, asserts that Woodcock would provide “the leadership we need to move forward in our deep understanding of science and would affirm to the American public that the FDA will continue to be the global gold standard to change patient’s lives for the better.”
It asks Biden to “do what is right for cancer patients, the scientific community, and the country by swiftly nominating Dr. Janet Woodcock to be our permanent FDA commissioner.”
In addition to Allison, chair of the Department of Immunology at the MD Anderson Cancer Center, and Dolsten, CSO and president of worldwide research, development and medical of Pfizer, 15 other Moonshot panel members signed the letter to Biden.
Moonshot panelists calling for Woodcock
Chair of Immunology, MD Anderson Cancer Center
CSO, president of worldwide R&D and medical, Pfizer
CEO, Huntsman Cancer Institute
Director, Brain Tumor Center, UCSF
President and CEO, Sonoma Biotherapeutics
Professor of pathology, Harvard Medical School; director of bioinformatics, Mass General Cancer Center
President and CEO, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Chief, Cancer Epidemiology and Prevention; director, Center for Global Oncology, Northwestern’s Feinberg School of Medicine
Director of MIT’s Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research
Deputy director, Johns Hopkins’ Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center
Professor, School of Nursing; director of Cancer Survivorship, Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center
Director of Center to Eliminate Cancer Disparities, Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center
Director, Stanley S. Scott Cancer Center; professor, LSU Health Sciences Center
Dean, UNC-Chapel Hill’s Gillings School of Global Public Health
Chairperson, founder, Friends of Cancer Research
Chairman, Chan Soon-Shiong Family Foundation
W. K. Alfred Yung
Professor of neuro-oncology, University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center