Dr. Hamburg is an internationally recognized expert in medicine and public health as well as a leading authority on emergency preparedness and response.
Throughout her career, she has dedicated herself to tackling issues of major public importance as a public servant, and as a member of numerous professional and philanthropic organizations.
Dr. Hamburg began her career in public service in Washington D.C., soon becoming Assistant Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health.
In 1991, she was appointed Commissioner of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene where she served for six years, working first for Mayor Dinkins and then for Mayor Giuliani. During her tenure she was known for implementing rigorous public health initiatives that tackled the city’s most pressing crises head-on – including improved services for women and children, an internationally-recognized tuberculosis control program, a needle-exchange program to combat HIV transmission, and the nation’s first public health bio-terrorism preparedness program.
Dr. Hamburg was appointed by President Clinton to the position of Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in 1997. She held that position until 2001 when she became the founding Vice President for Biological Programs in the Nuclear Threat Initiative, a foundation dedicated to reducing nuclear, chemical and biological threats. In that role, Dr. Hamburg spearheaded efforts to prevent, detect, and respond to both naturally occurring infectious epidemics and deliberate bioterrorism/bioweapons use. She later took on the position of Senior Scientist.
In 2009, President Obama nominated Dr. Hamburg to become the 21st Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration and she was unanimously confirmed. Only the second woman to hold the position, Dr. Hamburg emphasized the critical need for both modernization and innovation in meeting medical care and public health needs. As Commissioner, she provided leadership on many groundbreaking activities, including: new authority to regulate tobacco products; implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act designed to transform food safety to a preventive system rather than simply responding when outbreaks occur; and the streamlining and modernization of the system for the evaluation and approval of medical products. She was recognized for her focus on improving and accelerating product development, review and oversight by advancing regulatory science. Dr. Hamburg also worked hard to reposition FDA as an agency prepared for the challenges of globalization and was very active in efforts to establish new mechanisms for global governance of regulatory systems, including enhanced communication, collaboration and regulatory harmonization.
Currently, Dr. Hamburg is Foreign Secretary for the National Academy of Medicine, where she serves as senior advisor on international matters and is the liaison with other Academies of Medicine around the world. In addition, she is President-elect of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the world’s largest scientific membership organization.
Dr. Hamburg is board certified in Internal Medicine. She is a graduate of both Harvard College and Harvard Medical School and completed her medical residency at the New York Hospital-Cornell-Weill Medical Center. She is the daughter of Beatrix A. Hamburg and David A. Hamburg, both physicians. Her mother was the first self-identified African-American woman to be accepted at Vassar College and to earn a degree from the Yale University School of Medicine. Her father is President Emeritus of the Carnegie Corporation of New York. Dr. Hamburg is married and has two children.