FDA elevates chief scientist Bumpus to the number two role

FDA's Namendja Bumpus

FDA chief scientist Namandjé Bumpus has been named as principal deputy commissioner, replacing long-serving Janet Woodcock when she steps down early next year.

Bumpus is heading for the number two position at the FDA – second only to Commissioner Robert Califf, who announced the appointment on X (formerly Twitter) – just over a year after she joined the agency.

“As principal deputy commissioner, Namandjé will work closely with FDA leadership to develop, advance, and implement key public health initiatives, as well as to oversee the agency's day-to-day functions,” said Califf in an email to staff.

“Chief among those priorities is the proposed reorganisation unifying the Human Foods Programme, creating a new model for the Office of Regulatory Affairs, and strengthening the entire agency,” he added. “There are many analogous situations that point out how hard it is to step into a role held by a legendary leader, but I am confident [Dr Bumpus] is up for it!”

Prior to joining the FDA, Bumpus worked at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine as head of the department of pharmacology and molecular sciences and previously served as the university’s associate dean for basic research.

She holds degrees in biology and pharmacology and completed a post-doctoral fellowship in molecular and experimental medicine at the Scripps Research Institute, and is also president of the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics (ASPET).

Since joining the FDA, Bumpus has already made her mark, leading the agency’s first overhaul of the regulatory framework for cosmetics since the 1930s and overseeing a fractious exchange between the FDA and Intarcia Therapeutics over the rejection of the company’s drug-eluting stent product ITCA 650.

Woodcock, who led the FDA as acting commissioner during the COVID-19 pandemic and was replaced on a permanent basis by Robert Califf in February 2022, confirmed earlier this month that she would be retiring from the agency.

Califf reiterated his regard for her in a thread on X, in which he praised her “unwavering commitment to FDA and public service and a lifetime of achievements for public health.”

Woodcock has worked at the agency since 1986, and served as director of the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER) for more than a decade on two occasions: initially, between 1994 and 2004, and then from 2007 to 2020, when she was asked to be the therapeutics lead for Operation Warp Speed, the federal response to COVID-19.

30 November, 2023