Observations

Article excerpt

In November 2002, Mark B. McClellan, M.D., Ph.D., became the 18th Commissioner of Food and Drugs.

McClellan holds a medical degree from the Harvard-Massachusetts Institute of Technology Division of Health Sciences and Technology and a doctorate in economics from MIT. He didn't have to travel far to get to his new office. Before coming to the FDA, McClellan, 39, served as a member of the Council of Economic Advisers and was President Bush's expert on health policy.

A native of Austin, Texas, McClellan "has tremendous analytical skills" and is well qualified to set the agenda for the nation's oldest consumer protection agency, according to a colleague at Stanford University, where McClellan taught economics and medicine.

Much of his research addresses health care productivity.

"He's an excellent physician and brings a deep understanding of economics and statistical methods to the job," says Alan Garber, M.D., Ph.D., who, like McClellan, holds joint appointments in economics and medicine at Stanford. "He will bring new and creative thinking to the process."

The new FDA commissioner also brings some first-hand knowledge of politics to the job. His mother, Carole Keeton Strayhorn, is the Texas comptroller and a three-time mayor of Austin. His brother, Scott, is a deputy White House press secretary. …