Women in Healthcare Spotlight On: Dr. Margaret Hamburg
Healthcare Now Radio is proud to celebrate the top female professionals in healthcare for the month of March in honor of Women’s History Month. Follow and join the conversation with #WomeninHealthcare and #WomensHistoryMonth.
We conclude our Celebrating Women in Healthcare Month by saluting Dr. Margaret Hamburg as she resigns after six years of serving as the Commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. She was the 21st commissioner of food and drugs and the second woman to be nominated for this position. Her background and experiences include medical doctor, scientist, and public health executive. Her legacy will include modernizing the way the agency regulated food and drugs being imported into our country, increasing the amount of drugs the F.D.A. approved by expediting the review of products, changing the overall culture which in turn improved morale, and facing some of the most current health issues such as obesity, electronic cigarettes, and the surge of painkiller abuse.
Dr. Hamburg has been the recipient of many awards, a few being the National Consumers League’s Trumpeter Award in 2011 and the National Center for Health Research’s 2011 Health Research Policy Hero Award. In 2014, Forbes names her the 51st most powerful woman in the world.
Her work as the Commissioner and previous positions have earned her the reputation as an expert in community health and bio-defense. One of the youngest to ever be included in the Institute of Medicine, she was elected as a member in 1994 at the age of 39. Her education includes an undergraduate degree from Radcliffe College, a M.D. from Harvard Medical School and she completed her residency in internal medicine at New York Hospital/Cornell University Medical Center. She continued researching neuroscience at Rockefeller University, studied neuropharmacology at the National Institute of Mental Health, and conducted AIDS research while serving as assistant director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
She served as commissioner of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (1991- 1997.) Highlights of her accomplishments during her tenure include improving services for women and children, promoting needle-exchange programs, initiating the nation’s first public health bioterrorism defense program, and reducing the spread of tuberculosis. TB made a threatening comeback in the 1990s in New York, which Dr. Hamburg answered with an approach of sending health care practitioners to the homes of their patients to monitor and ensure the accurate completion of their medical plans. At the time, this approach was considered innovation. Today it serves as a model all over the world. Next, she was the principal policy adviser to then Secretary of U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Donna Shalala, while serving as the Assistant Secretary of Planning and Evaluation for the HHS (1997-2001.) From 2001 to 2009, she worked at the Nuclear Threat Initiative, a foundation whose mission is to reduce public safety issues stemming from nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. First, she was the vice president for biological programs (2001 to 2005,) then became a senior scientist (2005-2009.)
Healthcare Now Radio salutes Dr. Margaret Hamburg for her years of service and dedication to fulfilling the FDA’s mission to protect the health of the public.
“I’ve been a medical and public health professional as well as a mother. I became skilled at juggling a number of priorities and competing interests. Like many other female leaders, I’ve tried to serve as a role model for the young women at my organization who are trying to balance a high-level leadership position and a family.” – Dr. Margaret Hamburg
Click here to watch her last formal address as the FDA Commissioner last week at The National Press Club Luncheon as she reflects on lessons learned and food and drug safety.