Biden names COVID-19 response chief science officer

Keith A. Reynolds

David Kessler, MD, will take the reins of President-elect Joe R. Biden’s COVID-19 response team.

The forthcoming Biden administration’s COVID response team will be led former Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner David Kessler, MD.

According to a news release, Kessler served as the head of the FDA from 1990 to 1997 through the tenure of Presidents George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton as well as the chair of the boards of the Center for Science in the Public Interest and the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF).

He helped spearhead a major global effort to make AIDS drugs available to millions to end the transmission from mother to child. Kessler is a professor of pediatrics and epidemiology and biostatistics at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) and has served as the dean of medical schools at Yale and UCSF, the release says.

“We are in a race against time, and we need a comprehensive strategy to quickly contain this virus,” Biden says in the release. “The individuals announced today will bolster the White House’s COVID-19 Response team and play important roles in carrying out our rescue plan and vaccination program. At a time when American families are facing numerous challenges I know these public servants will do all that is needed to build our nation back better.”

Biden also named other members of the COVID response team. These include:

  • Amy Chang, policy advisor
  • Abbe Gluck, special counsel
  • Rosa Po, COVID Response Team deputy chief of staff
  • Andy Slavitt, senior advisor to the COVID Response coordinator
  • Vidur Sharma, policy advisor for testing
  • Ben Wakana, deputy director of strategic communications & engagement
  • B. Cameron Webb, senior policy advisor for COVID-19 equity