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David Aaron Kessler

David Aaron Kessler (born May 13, 1951 in New York, New York) is an American pediatrician, lawyer, and administrator (both academic and governmental). He was the Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) from November 8, 1990 to February 28, 1997.

After graduating from Amherst College in 1973, Kessler studied medicine at Harvard University, graduating with an M.D. degree in 1979, and law at the University of Chicago, graduating with a J.D. in 1978.[1] While serving his residency in pediatrics at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, he worked as a consultant to Republican Senator Orrin Hatch from Utah, particularly on issues relating to the safety of food additives, and on the regulation of cigarettes and tobacco. From 1984-1990, Kessler simultaneously ran a 431-bed teaching hospital in New York City and taught at the Columbia Law School and the Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

Although his appointment as FDA commissioner in 1990 by President George H. W. Bush won bipartisan approval, many of Kessler's actions were controversial, and he soon became more popular with Democrats than Republicans. He moved quickly to make the agency more efficient, cutting the time needed to approve or reject new drugs, including AIDS drugs, and more vigilant in protecting consumers against unsafe products and inflated label claims. It was also under his watch that FDA enacted regulations requiring standardized Nutrition Facts labels on food. In one memorable action, he had 24,000 gallons of orange juice seized because although made from concentrate, it was labeled "fresh." Kessler was reappointed to the post of FDA Commissioner during the administration of Bill Clinton.

Kessler is also known for his role in the FDA's attempt to regulate cigarettes,[2] which resulted in the FDA v. Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp. case. The Supreme Court ultimately ruled that the FDA did not have the power to enact and enforce the regulations in question.[3]

He left the FDA to join the Yale School of Medicine as Dean from 1997–2003. In 2003 he was recruited to a $540,000 post as Dean and Vice-Chancellor at the University of California, San Francisco Medical School.[1][4] Kessler began complaining in 2005 over the difference between the annual infusion of $46.4 million to the dean's office he thought he had been promised and the $28.8 it was actually receiving, a discrepancy he traced back to 2002 and attributed to inadequate financial controls. J. Michael Bishop, Chancellor of UCSF, acknowledged that the financial data presented to him during his recruitment might have been misleading but UC audits found no evidence of financial irregularities and, in June 2007, Bishop demanded Kessler's resignation. On December, 13, 2007, Kessler was formally dismissed.[5][6][7][8]


  1. ^ a b David A. Kessler, MD. BIO (Annual International Convention) 2004 Newsroom (June 16, 2004). Retrieved on 2007-12-16.
  2. ^ A Question of Intent: A Great American Battle With A Deadly Industry by David A. Kessler, at Amazon
  3. ^ Cornell University Law School - FDA V. BROWN & WILLIAMSON TOBACCO CORP.
  4. ^ Tanya Schevitz (2007-12-15). Recruited from Yale with money, gifts and promises. San Francisco Chronicle, p.A12. Retrieved on 2007-12-16.
  5. ^ Sabin Russell. "UCSF medical school fires dean in dispute over finances(web title)(title on paper, p.1:"TURMOIL AT UCSF MEDICAL SCHOOL Dean fired in dispute he says is for whistle-blowing on finances)", San Francisco Chronicle, December 15, 2007. 
  6. ^ UC, UCSF Issue Statement About Leadership Changes at UCSF School of Medicine, 14 December 2007
  7. ^ Greg Miller (2007). "Questions Swirl Around Kessler's Abrupt Dismissal From UCSF (req.pmt.)". Science 318 (5858): 1855. doi:10.1126/science.318.5858.1855a.
  8. ^,1,5127888.story?coll=la-news-science&ctrack=5&cset=true
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "David_Aaron_Kessler". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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