The Reagan-Udall Foundation has announced five members of its Independent Expert Panel who will conduct the operational evaluation of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) human foods program. Dr. Jane Henney, M.D., former FDA Commissioner, was named as Chair of the panel last month. Joining Henney are Francisco Diez-Gonzalez, Ph.D.; James Jones; Barbara Kowalcyk, Ph.D.; Shiriki Kumanyika, Ph.D., M.S., M.P.H; and John Taylor, J.D. The review is set to launch on September 8, 2022, and will conclude on December 6, 2022, when the panel will deliver a report of its findings to FDA Commissioner of Food and Drugs Robert Califf, Ph.D.
Dr. Jane E. Henney, Chair of the Independent Expert Panel, shared that the team combines FDA and other government experience with deep subject matter expertise and first-hand knowledge of systems and operations. The Independent Expert Panel comprises researchers, former regulators, and process improvement specialists with disciplinary expertise and experience in epidemiology, food science and safety, microbiology, nutrition, and regulatory operations. The newly appointed members of the panel are as follows:
- Dr. Francisco Diez-Gonzalez is a food safety microbiologist. He serves at the University of Georgia’s College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences as the Director of the Center for Food Safety and a Professor in the Department of Food Science and Technology. Dr. Diez-Gonzalez conducts research aimed at controlling foodborne pathogens and is a member of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) National Advisory Committee on Microbiological Criteria for Foods.
- James Jones, now President of JJones Environmental, previously had a 30-year career at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), including a five-year tenure as EPA’s Assistant Administrator. His accomplishments include leading the agency’s effort to significantly reduce pesticides in food, navigating a years-long backlog of pesticide registrations and tolerances, and leading the Obama Administration’s efforts to reform the Toxic Substances Control Act.
- Dr. Barbara Kowalcyk directs the Center for Foodborne Illness Research and Prevention at The Ohio State University’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences, where she also serves as an Associate Professor of Food Safety and Public Health in the Department of Food Science and Technology. She is a well-respected epidemiologist and biostatistician, and is a nearly ten-year member of the FDA Science Board, which she currently chairs.
- Dr. Shiriki Kumanyika is Research Professor in the Department of Community Health and Prevention at Drexel University’s Dornsife School of Public Health. She has applied her interdisciplinary background and extensive research experience to numerous roles, and currently chairs the National Academies Food and Nutrition Board. She is also Emeritus Professor of Epidemiology at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine.
- John Taylor is the President and Principal of Compliance and Regulatory Affairs at Greenleaf Health. He spent more than 20 years at FDA, holding posts that included Counselor to the Commissioner, Acting Deputy Principal Commissioner, Acting Deputy Commissioner for Global Regulatory Operations and Policy, and Associate Commissioner for Regulatory Affairs.
The Independent Expert Panel will assess agency structure and leadership, authority, resources, and culture as it develops recommendations to help FDA better carry out its regulatory responsibilities, strengthen its relationships with state and local governments, and secure the nation’s food supply for the future.