Michael Astrue, senior vice president of administration and general counsel at Transkaryotic Therapies Inc., who appears to be under serious consideration for the post of FDA commissioner, has two of the key attributes for a Bush administration appointment: he is known as a conservative Republican and he served in the administration of père Bush.

A third factor is that Astrue would enable Bush to nominate a person from the entrepreneurial biotech industry, which has a widely favorable public profile, in contrast to names that have been surfaced from the pharma community.