History of FDA's Centers and Offices
Since its beginnings as the USDA's Bureau of Chemistry, FDA's institutional organization has changed significantly. In 1914, FDA's field offices were organized into three districts -- Eastern, Central and Western--with a total of 16 field laboratories (later renamed "stations") organized underneath them. This general structure remained more or less the same until 1948 when in a general move towards greater centralization, the field offices began reporting to a headquarters office, the Division of Field Operations.
In the 1950s and 60s, the Agency's activities were organized under a number of different Bureaus that typically reflected the expertise of the staff -- e.g., the Bureau of Biological and Physical Sciences, the Bureau of Enforcement, the Bureau of Field Administration, the Bureau of Medicine, the Bureau of Foods, the Bureau of Veterinary Medicine, the Bureau of Drug Abuse Control, the Bureau of Regulatory Compliance and the Bureau of Education and Voluntary Compliance.
In 1968, the field operations were reorganized under the leadership of Regional Food and Drug Directors, and the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare transferred some of FDA's product safety, environmental health and consumer education functions to the newly created Consumer Protection and Environmental Health Service (CPEHS). When CPEHS was dissolved in 1970, many of these functions were transferred back to the FDA, and were reincorporated as the Agency reorganized along product lines under the Bureau of Drugs, the Bureau of Foods and Pesticides, the Bureau of Veterinary Medicine, and the Bureau of Product Safety.
By 1076, the FDA inherited regulatory authority over new product areas, stimulating the creation of four new Bureaus: the Bureau of Biologics, the Bureau of Radiological Health, the Bureau of Medical Devices and the National Center for Toxicological Research. In 1984, the "Bureaus" were all renamed "Centers," and at the same time, regulation of devices and radiological health were united in one center, as were drugs and biologics (though their union only lasted until 1987).
In 2009, pursuant to the enactment of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act FDA was given regulatory control over tobacco products, and created its most recent center: the Center for Tobacco Products.
Today, FDA is organized into eight centers with responsibility for regulating specific product areas, as well as a number of administrative and program offices under the Office of the Commissioner. To learn more about FDA's current organizational framework, please consult the resources offered here: FDA Organization.