The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced today that Dr. Margaret Hamburg--who’s served as commissioner of the agency for nearly 6 years--is stepping down from her position. The change comes just as the food safety industry urges Congress to merge functions of the FDA and the U.S. Department of Agriculture into a single agency--a move supported by President Barack Obama.

Originally nominated to her post by President Obama, Hamburg was confirmed by the U.S. Senate in 2009. Throughout her tenure with the FDA, she has overseen a variety of public health initiatives, including the enforcement of stricter inspection of foods imported into the U.S.

Hamburg--who describes her time with the FDA as “the most rewarding of [her] career”--will remain with the agency through the end of March. In the interim, Dr. Stephen Ostroff--the FDA’s chief scientist--will temporarily assume Hamburg’s role until a new commissioner is named.