Former FDA Commissioner Robert Califf Will Head Initiatives at Duke, Verily

DURHAM, N.C. May 22, 2017 – Robert M. Califf, M.D., who in January stepped down as Commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, has been named to new leadership roles at Duke Health, Duke University and Verily Life Sciences.

Effective immediately, Califf becomes vice chancellor for Health Data Science at Duke Health and director of a newly created cross-campus center focused on integrated health data science. On June 1, he will also join the senior management team for Verily Life Sciences, an Alphabet company. His time will be evenly split between his Duke and Verily responsibilities.

“Dr. Califf is one of the most respected figures in academic medicine today and is widely regarded as a preeminent innovator in clinical evidence generation,” said A. Eugene Washington, M.D., chancellor for Health Affairs at Duke University and president and chief executive officer of Duke University Health System. “His lifelong pursuit of effectively applying clinical data to improving healthcare and population health uniquely qualifies him to lead these vitally important health data science endeavors at Duke.”

The cross-campus center he leads will seek to advance and create inter-campus collaborations focused on science-driven research and innovation, while also amplifying Duke’s role in building a nationally regarded network for generating evidence to guide clinical treatment. The center will also work to develop a stronger presence and role for Duke in Silicon Valley and other areas known for data science innovation and excellence.

“We are most fortunate that Dr. Califf will invest his considerable expertise and energy to build a university-wide center that coalesces data science expertise and health data resources from across the campus for the improvement of human health,” said Sally Kornbluth, Ph.D., Duke University provost. “I believe his commitment to this vision has the potential to create a unique engine for better understanding human health and disease.”

At Verily, Califf will provide guidance for transforming the growth in volume of health-related data into practical applications that will advance health and health care strategies and practice.

“Although we are in the midst of an explosion of capability in the worlds of computing and information, we have not yet learned how to effectively translate this capacity into better health and health care,” Califf wrote in a blog post announcing the new positions. “Bridging this gap has been a recurring theme throughout my career, and it’s at the heart of what I’m hoping to accomplish at both institutions.”

Califf has been a pioneer in the growing field of translational research, which is key to ensuring that advances in science translate into health care. Califf received his undergraduate and medical degrees from Duke, joined the faculty in 1982 and served in numerous leadership roles at Duke University School of Medicine and Duke University Health System before joining the FDA in 2015. Califf was also a founding director of the Duke Clinical Research Institute (DCRI), now the largest and one of the most respected academic clinical research organizations in the world. He will maintain an appointment at DCRI.

“We’re honored that Dr. Califf has chosen this innovative career option from among the many significant and high-level opportunities that were available to him following his exceptional service as FDA Commissioner,” said Mary Klotman, M.D., chair of the Department of Medicine and dean-elect of Duke University School of Medicine. “Better understanding the most effective, pragmatic application of the mountains of data that continue to grow is one of the great opportunities in clinical medicine in the coming years.”

SOURCE: Duke Health