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  1. FDA Leadership: 1907 to Today

James L. Goddard

 Photo of James L. Goddard, M.D.

James L. Goddard, M.D.

1/17/1966 - 7/1/1968

James L. Goddard, born in Alliance, Ohio in 1923, served in the Army during World War II before completing his M. D. at George Washington University in 1949. Following a short-lived stint in private medical practice in Ohio, Goddard began his long tenure in the Public Health Service in 1951, which was interrupted from 1954 to 1955 by his graduate work at the Harvard School of Public Health that culminated in the M. P. H. After a one-year traineeship in a driver research and testing center for the New York State Department of Health, Goddard headed the PHS Accident Prevention Program in Washington, D. C., from 1956 to 1959, where he helped lead the push for auto safety belts. His career in public health continued as director of the medical program in the Federal Aviation Agency for the following three years. In 1962 Goddard was named head of the Communicable Disease Center in Atlanta, the youngest person at that time to hold that post.

Though Goddard had expressed a desire to be appointed Surgeon General, HEW Secretary John Gardner instead assigned the career PHS officer to another departmental post that needed to be filled, Commissioner of Food and Drugs, and Goddard began his tenure at FDA in January 1966. "Go-Go" Goddard, as he was known to his staff, reorganized the agency in the wake of mounting Congressional criticism on a host of topics, and many upper level officials resigned or retired in the process. The pharmaceutical industry in particular bore much of Goddard's regulatory enthusiasm; drug recalls grew by nearly 75 percent in his first year. Dr. Goddard implemented major management changes in the agency by placing primary responsibility on district directors in the field for routine regulatory and administrative decision making. This reversed the long standing headquarters centered modus operandi of the agency. Among other major initiatives launched during Goddard's commissionership, fiscal and organizational efforts facilitated the agency's scientific capabilities, FDA contracted with the National Academy of Sciences to conduct an efficacy review of about 4000 pre-1962 drugs, and voluntary compliance was promoted in accord with the recommendations of the second Citizens Advisory Committee report.

Goddard left the agency for an executive position with a medical/industrial systems analysis firm, EDP Technology of Atlanta, allegedly over his disappointment at not being named head of the Consumer Protection and Environmental Health Service (a fleeting attempt to combine FDA and similar agencies under one umbrella). Goddard received numerous honors for his career in public service, including honorary doctorates from the University of Michigan and Emory University, and the Bronfman Prize of the American Public Health Association, the highest public health award in this country. Goddard died in 2010.

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