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Biden’s science team & early cancer detection: a BioCentury podcast

Jan 20, 2021 | 1:30 AM GMT

As Joe Biden readies to become president, the shape of who will lead HHS, FDA, science policy and the new administration’s COVID-19 response is coming into focus. On the latest edition of the BioCentury This Week podcast, BioCentury editors discuss who is in the running to become FDA commissioner and who has already been tapped for key roles in the new administration. They then take a look at the newest entrants to the liquid biopsy space.

For the top FDA post, Washington Editor Steve Usdin says there is a great deal of support in the life sciences community for Janet Woodcock, who is likely to be picked to be acting FDA commissioner, to succeed Stephen Hahn on a permanent basis.

“There are a lot of people in FDA and in the life sciences ecosystem who think that she would be a fantastic FDA commissioner,” says Usdin. “She really created the idea of regulatory innovation. She’s responsible for a lot of the forward motion that has made it possible to develop drugs more rapidly, to do it more efficiently, to do it with more input from the patient community.”

Usdin and Editor in Chief Simone Fishburn discuss the two sets of people who are against a Woodcock pick: those who believe she was too cozy with industry and those who take issue with some of the decisions she made while head of FDA’s CDER, including her intervention in the review of Exondys 51 eteplirsen from Sarepta Therapeutics Inc. (NASDAQ:SRPT).

Fishburn says that Biden is also sending a “big message” with his choices for the healthcare and science posts on his team, pointing to the elevation of the role of presidential science adviser to a Cabinet position, naming the Broad Institute’s Eric Lander to the post, and nominating him as director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy.  Lander is the first biologist to become science adviser and the incoming president wants him to “revamp science policy and the preeminence of the U.S. in science.”

Usdin recaps his exit interview with Hahn, details of which can be found on the podcast or in his separate report on the conversation.

Finally, Senior Editor Karen Tkach Tuzman highlights a historic HHS appointment and discusses how new early cancer detection players Delfi Diagnostics Inc. and Earli Inc. are standing out from the crowd of companies in the maturing liquid biopsy space and why this may be a pivotal year for early cancer detection companies.

Sponsorship opportunities: Sponsorship and Underwriting packages are available for webinars, podcasts and surveys. For more information, please contact Eric Pierce and Josh Berlin at conferences@biocentury.com

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