Washington, DC, November 12, 2021 — American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown issued the following statement in response to today’s announcement that President Biden will nominate Robert M. Califf, M.D. for commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA):

“The next FDA commissioner has a central role to play to ensure equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, exercise robust oversight of the tobacco industry, streamline the process of drug and device development and review, and other critical public health priorities. With a distinguished career in medicine and clinical research, which served him so well when he previously served as FDA commissioner, Dr. Califf is ideally suited to lead the agency at this particularly challenging time.

“As a trained cardiologist, an accomplished researcher and an extraordinary communicator, Dr. Califf brings a patient-centric and collaborative approach to his work that is critical to meeting the many challenges facing the FDA. He also brings enormous leadership experience honed through his prior tenure as FDA commissioner and as founding director of the Duke Clinical Research Institute.

“Through his work with the American Heart Association, Dr. Califf has demonstrated his tireless commitment to the fight against heart disease and stroke. He was given the Association’s Eugene Braunwald Academic Mentorship Award in 2018 for his dedication to the successful teaching and mentoring of cardiovascular trainees and clinicians in the areas of research, education and clinical practice. He was a lead author of the Association’s 2020 call to action for addressing inequities in rural health. He has also been a driving force behind the Association’s historic commitment, announced earlier this year, to address the social determinants of health and the barriers to achieving health equity for all communities - urban, suburban and rural.

“The next FDA commissioner must work to ensure equitable health care for everyone in America by:

  • Continuing to prioritize high-risk populations for COVID-19 vaccine distribution and mitigating disparities by race, sex, gender, disability status, health insurance status, citizenship status and geographic location.
  • Strengthening the FDA's efforts to reduce and ultimately eliminate tobacco use and nicotine addiction though proven measures such as eliminating flavored tobacco products, establishing nicotine standards, implementing graphic warning labels and restrictions on sales and marketing, and enforcing rigorous premarket review of all tobacco products.
  • Exerting regulatory authority over the growing number of synthetic nicotine products, including synthetic nicotine e-cigarettes.
  • Ensuring that all medical products, including therapeutics and vaccines for COVID-19, are safe and effective.
  • Expanding the Nutrition Innovation Strategy to empower consumers to make healthy choices and encourage industry to produce healthier foods.

We look forward to working with Dr. Califf, if confirmed, in support of the FDA’s critical efforts to promote public health and reduce the burden of chronic disease.”


About the American Heart Association
The American Heart Association is a leading force for a world of longer, healthier lives. With nearly a century of lifesaving work, the Dallas-based association is dedicated to ensuring equitable health for all. We are a trustworthy source empowering people to improve their heart health, brain health and well-being. We collaborate with numerous organizations and millions of volunteers to fund innovative research, advocate for stronger public health policies and share lifesaving resources and information. Connect with us on heart.orgFacebookTwitter or by calling 1-800-AHA-USA1.


For media inquiries please contact:
Steve Weiss – 202-607-0911; steve.weiss@heart.org