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  5. Donald Kennedy
  1. FDA Leadership: 1907 to Today

 Photo of Donald Kennedy, Ph.D. Donald Kennedy, Ph.D.

(4/4/1977 - 6/30/1979)*

Donald Kennedy, an internationally recognized neurophysiologist who headed both the FDA and Stanford University, was born in New York in 1931. He pursued both his undergraduate and graduate education at Harvard, receiving the Ph. D. in biological sciences in 1956. Following a four-year period on the faculty at Syracuse University, Kennedy moved to the Department of Biological Sciences at Stanford in 1960, the institution where he spent the rest of his academic career. His broad interests included comparative marine biology, public policy, nutrition, and recombinant DNA technology.

Joseph Califano, Secretary of HEW, appointed Kennedy to head FDA in April 1977. During the next 26 months of his tenure as Food and Drug Commissioner the agency dealt with the repercussions of the attempt to ban saccharin, attempted to overhaul the drug provisions of the FD&C Act in the proposed Drug Regulation Reform Act of 1978, and conducted a major revision of many of its good manufacturing practices, among other developments.

Kennedy left the agency in June 1979 and returned to Stanford, where he was first vice president for academic affairs and provost and then, from 1980 to 1991, president of the university. In 1992 Kennedy returned to the faculty as Bing Professor of Environmental Sciences. The many recognitions he received include honorary degrees from Columbia, Rochester, Michigan, and Arizona, and memberships in the National Academy of Sciences and on the editorial boards of Science, the Journal of Neurophysiology, and the Journal of Comparative Physiology.


*Sherwin Gardner, deputy commissioner from 1972 to 1979, acted as commissioner on three separate occasions, for a total of approximately 12 months, between the tenures of Charles Edwards, Alexander Schmidt, Donald Kennedy and Jere Goyan.

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