Torti Named FDA's Acting Commissioner

January 15, 2009
Patricia Van Arnum

Patricia Van Arnum was executive editor of Pharmaceutical Technology.

ePT--the Electronic Newsletter of Pharmaceutical Technology

Frank Torti, currently principal deputy commissioner and chief scientist of the US Food and Drug Administration, will take over as FDA's acting commissioner next week, according to an official with the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

Rockville, MD (Jan. 12)-Frank Torti, currently principal deputy commissioner and chief scientist of the US Food and Drug Administration, will take over as FDA’s acting commissioner next week, according to an official with the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Current FDA Commissioner Andrew von Eschenbach is leaving FDA, effective Jan. 20, with the change in administration and the inauguration of President-Elect Barack Obama.

Torti joined FDA in May 2008 as principal deputy commissioner and the agency’s first chief scientist. As chief scientist, Torti and his team were responsible for ensuring the quality and regulatory focus of FDA’s intramural research program and its regulatory role in clinical research trials. He was also responsible for the launch of the FDA Fellowship Program, designed to attract up to 2000 professionals of varying disciplines.

Torti, who will hold the post until a permanent appointment is made, has a background as a clinician, scientist, and researcher in molecular oncology. He was formerly the 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, NC. He also served on the National Institutes of Health's National Advisory Council for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. He founded and served as president of the Cancer Biology Training Consortium, a national society of cancer biology department chairs and program directors, and was the recipient of a National Institutes of Health MERIT Award.

Torti received his bachelor's and master's degree from Johns Hopkins University, his medical degree from Harvard Medical School, and his Master of Public Health from the Harvard School of Public Health. He 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.

FDA makes other appointments
FDA’s Eschenbach also announced two appointments. Lou Valdez, who previously served as deputy director of the HHS Office of Global Health Affairs, has been named associate commissioner for internal programs. Loris Davis, currently deputy information officer, was named FDA’s chief information officer.

Valdez will help lead implementation of FDA's international programs. In 2008, FDA opened offices in China and implemented plans for additional offices in India, Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East.  In her previous role as deputy director of HHS Office of Global Health Affairs, she led the development of US government policy positions on international public-health issues. Valdez is a graduate of the University of Texas at El Paso, and holds a master's of science degree in management from the University of Maryland’s University College.

As chief information officer, Davis will be responsible for strengthening FDA's information technology (IT) infrastructure and for improving the interoperability of systems across the agency. Davis joined FDA as deputy chief information officer in November 2007 and restructured the Office of Information Management and centralized IT project budgets and resources. Davis previously served as acting deputy director in the Office of Strategic Operations and Regulatory Affairs at HHS' Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), as special assistant to the CMS chief operating officer, and as deputy director of CMS' Office of Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act Standards (now the Office of e-health Standards and Services). Davis is a graduate of the University of South Carolina and holds a master’s of public administration from Louisiana State University.