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  1. FDA Leadership: 1907 to Today

Carl L. Alsberg

 Photo of Carl L. Alsberg, M.D.

  Carl L. Alsberg, M.D.

12/16/1912 - 7/15/1921

Carl L. Alsberg was born in New York in 1877. After receiving his M. D. from Columbia in 1900, he developed an expertise in biochemistry over the next eight years during extensive research training in Germany and as a junior faculty member at Harvard Medical School. His early research interests were eclectic, and included the chemistry and metabolism of proteins.

From 1908 to 1912 he was a chemical biologist with the Bureau of Plant Industry in the U. S. Department of Agriculture, and in 1912 he succeeded Harvey Wiley as chief of the Bureau of Chemistry, a position he remained in until 1921. Alsberg's tenure at the Bureau of Chemistry was characterized by increasing the attention given to drug regulation, to research, and to an enforcement philosophy that relied more on education and persuasion than prosecution.

After leaving the Bureau of Chemistry, Alsberg joined the faculty of Stanford, where he was Director of the Food Research Institute from 1921 until his retirement, and Dean of Graduate Study from 1927 to 1933. His scientific and professional standing was recognized in part by his presidency of the Society of Biological Chemistry, his membership on the editorial board of the Annual Review of Biochemistry, and his position as the first editor of the Journal of the Association of Official Agricultural Chemists. Alsberg, the youngest of the sixteen men to lead the Bureau of Chemistry and the FDA, died in 1940.

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