Crawford takes reins at FDA

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Dr. Lester M. Crawford Jr.  Dr. Lester M. Crawford Jr.

In February, Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson named Dr. Lester M. Crawford Jr. deputy commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration.

As deputy commissioner, Dr. Crawford will be the senior official at the FDA, pending the installment of a permanent commissioner. Speculation has abounded since the fall that Dr. Crawford was Thompson's choice to lead the agency, which has a budget of nearly $1.6 billion and more than 9,000 employees.

"Lester Crawford has devoted his career to promoting safer products for the public, and he brings to the FDA valuable experience and leadership skills," Thompson said. "With his help, the FDA will continue to build on its successes in ensuring the safety of foods, drugs and medical products for all Americans."

Dr. Crawford replaces Dr. Bernard A. Schwetz, who has served as acting principal deputy commissioner since Jan. 21, 2001. Dr. Schwetz, a senior adviser for science, will continue to work on public health and FDA issues within the agency.

Dr. Crawford most recently served as head of the Center for Food and Nutrition Policy at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. He also served as administrator of the Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service from 1987–1991 and as director of the FDA Center for Veterinary Medicine from 1978-1980, and again from 1982–1985.

He received a DVM degree from Auburn University School of Veterinary Medicine in 1963 and a PhD degree in pharmacology from the University of Georgia in 1969. Dr. Crawford is a former executive director of the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges, executive vice president of the National Food Processors Association, and chairman of the University of Georgia's Department of Physiology-Pharmacology.