Margaret Hamburg

Margaret Hamburg
Commissioner of Food and Drugs
In office
May 22, 2009  April 3, 2015
President Barack Obama
Preceded by Andrew von Eschenbach
Succeeded by Robert Califf
Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services for Planning and Evaluation
In office
President Bill Clinton
Preceded by Peter Edelman[1]
Succeeded by Bobby Jindal[2]
Personal details
Born (1955-07-12) July 12, 1955
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Alma mater Harvard University

Margaret Ann Hamburg (born July 12, 1955, Chicago, Illinois) is an American physician and public health administrator. She served as the 21st Commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration from May 2009 to April 2015.[3]


Hamburg graduated from Harvard College in 1977 and earned her M.D. from Harvard Medical School in 1983. She completed her medical residency training at the New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center and is Board Certified in Internal Medicine. In April 2015 she was appointed Foreign Secretary of the National Academy of Medicine.[4] In December 2016, Hamburg was named president-elect for the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).[5] She will serve a three-year term as an officer and member of the Executive Committee of the AAAS Board of Directors beginning in February 2017.

Following her medical training, Hamburg moved to Washington, D.C., to begin her career in public service. She served in several roles, including Assistant Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health. In 1991 Hamburg was appointed Commissioner of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, where she served for six years, working first for Mayor David Dinkins and then Mayor Rudy Giuliani. During her tenure, she worked on improved services for women and children, a needle-exchange program to reduce HIV transmission, a program to curtail the resurgence and spread of tuberculosis, and the nation's first public health bioterrorism preparedness program.[6]

In 1997, President Bill Clinton appointed Hamburg as Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. She served in this policy role until 2001 when she became the founding Vice President for Biological Programs and later the Senior Scientist for the Nuclear Threat Initiative,[7] a foundation dedicated to reducing the threat to public safety from nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons. In that role, Hamburg spearheaded efforts to prevent, detect, and respond to both naturally occurring and deliberately caused biological threats.


Hamburg was nominated by President Barack Obama in March 2009 to become Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration,[8] and was unanimously confirmed in May 2009.[9] As FDA Commissioner she was known for advancing regulatory science, streamlining and modernizing FDA's regulatory pathways, and globalization of the agency, as well as the implementation of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act (2009), the Food Safety Modernization Act (2011), and a review of the system for the evaluation and approval of medical devices.

Hamburg was the longest-serving FDA commissioner since David A. Kessler, and was the second woman to hold the position.[10]

Awards and recognition

Hamburg is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American College of Physicians, as well as a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the National Academy of Medicine, where she now serves as Foreign Secretary.

Hamburg has received numerous awards, among them the National Consumers League's Trumpeter Award in 2011[11] and the National Center for Health Research's 2011 Health Research Policy Hero Award.[12] She has also received the American College of Clinical Pharmacology's (ACCP) Nathaniel T. Kwit Memorial Distinguished Service Award,[13] the New York Academy of Medicine Medal for Distinguished Contributions in Health Policy,[14] the Radcliffe Alumnae Award and the American Lung Association's Breath of Life Award. Hamburg was the 2017 recipient of the FDAAA's Harvey W. Wiley Lecture Award for Outstanding Leadership in Advancing Public Health.

She is a distinguished senior fellow with the Center for Strategic and International Studies[15] and holds several Honorary Degrees.

Forbes named her as one of the world's 100 most powerful women multiple times, most recently in 2014 (#51).[16]

Boards and Affiliations

Hamburg currently sits on a number of Boards, including for the GAVI Alliance, Commonwealth Fund,[17] the Simons Foundation, the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy, the Urban Institute,[18] and the American Museum of Natural History.[19] She is also a member of the Harvard University Global Advisory Council, the Harvard Medical School Board of Fellows,[20] the World Dementia Council and the Global Health Scientific Advisory Committee[21] for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. She is also the Chair of the Joint Coordinating Group for the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Initiative (CEPI). Hamburg formerly served on the Boards of the Rockefeller Foundation, the Rockefeller University, the Nathan Cummings Foundation, Conservation International and Henry Schein Inc.

Personal life

Hamburg is the daughter of Beatrix Hamburg and David A. Hamburg, both physicians. Her mother was the first self-identified African-American woman to be accepted at Vassar College[22] and to earn a degree from the Yale University School of Medicine.[23] Her father is President Emeritus of the Carnegie Corporation of New York.

She is married to Peter Fitzhugh Brown, a computer scientist and artificial intelligence expert. Brown is the co-Chief Executive of Renaissance Technologies.[24] Renaissance Technologies was the top donor to President Donald Trump's 2016 campaign[25] and the third largest donor to Hillary Clinton,[26] giving $15.5 million and $16.5 million respectively.

Selected publications


  3. FDA head Margaret Hamburg to resign in March; Ostroff to be acting chief (Washington Post article-February 5, 2015)
  4. "Margaret A. Hamburg Appointed as Institute of Medicine Foreign Secretary". The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. April 6, 2015. Retrieved April 23, 2016.
  5. Korte, Andrea. "Margaret Hamburg Selected to Serve as AAAS President-Elect". AAAS. AAAS. Retrieved 9 January 2017.
  6. "Biography of Margaret A. Hamburg, M.D." U.S. Food & Drug Administration.
  7. Pugh, Tony (2/5/2015). "FDA commissioner Margaret Hamburg to step down in March". McClatchy DC. McClatchy Washington Bureau. Retrieved 19 September 2016. Check date values in: |date= (help)
  8. Gardiner Harris (11 March 2009). "Ex-New York Health Commissioner Is F.D.A. Pick". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-03-12.
  9. Gratzer, David (2009-05-21). "FDA commissioner". US FDA. Retrieved 2010-09-12.
  10. "Biography of Margaret A. Hamburg, M.D." U.S. Food & Drug Administration. U.S. Food & Drug Administration.
  11. "2011 Trumpeter Recipient: Dr. Margaret Hamburg". Retrieved March 2015. Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  12. "2011 Foremothers & Health Policy Hero Awards". National Research Center for Women & Families. Archived from the original on 14 May 2011. Retrieved 19 November 2012.
  13. "2016 ACCP Annual Meeting". American College of Clinical Pharmacology.
  14. "The Academy Medal for Distinguished Contributions in Health Policy". The New York Academy of Medicine.
  15. Office of Research on Women's Health (25 March 2004). "Dr. Margaret Hamburg". Changing the Face of Medicine. National Institutes of Health. Retrieved 2009-03-06.
  16. "The World's 100 Most Powerful Women". Forbes. Forbes. Retrieved 26 June 2014.
  17. "Margaret A. Hamburg, M.D., Elected to Commonwealth Fund Board of Directors". The Commonwealth Fund. The Commonwealth Fund.
  18. "Board of Trustees". Urban Institute. Urban Institute.
  19. "Board of Trustees". American Museum of Natural History. American Museum of Natural History. Retrieved 19 September 2016.
  20. "Harvard Medical School Board of Fellows". Harvard Medical School. Harvard Medical School. Retrieved 19 September 2016.
  21. "Scientific Advisory Committee". Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Retrieved 19 September 2016.
  22. Streett, Laura (February 11, 2014). "Vassar's First Black Students". The Gargoyle Bulletin. Vassar College. Retrieved April 23, 2016.
  23. Peart, Karen N. (May 27, 2011). "School of Medicine honors its first African-American women graduates". Yale News. Yale University. Retrieved April 23, 2016.
  24. Patterson, Scott; Strasburg, Jenny. "Pioneering Fund Stages Second Act". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 19 December 2017.
  25. "Top Contributors, federal election data for Donald Trump, 2016 cycle". Open Secrets. Retrieved 19 December 2017.
  26. "Top Contributors, federal election data for Hillary Clinton, 2016 cycle". Open Secrets. Retrieved 19 December 2017.
Political offices
Preceded by
Andrew von Eschenbach
Commissioner of Food and Drugs
Succeeded by
Robert Califf
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