Upstate News

May 9, 2005
Doretta Royer 315 464-4833

Former FDA commissioner, child health advocate to address graduates, receive honorary degrees at SUNY Upstate Commencement May 22

SYRACUSE, N.Y. – David A. Kessler, M.D., J.D., who served as commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) under presidents George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton, and Elizabeth R. McAnarney, M.D., a SUNY Upstate alumna and child health advocate, will address graduates at SUNY Upstate Medical University’s Commencement Sunday, May 22, at 1 p.m., in the John H. Mulroy Civic Center Crouse Hinds Theater. In addition, Kessler and McAnarney will be awarded honorary doctor of science degrees.

SUNY Upstate Medical University will confer 322 degrees to graduates of from its Colleges of Medicine, Health Professions, Nursing and Graduate Studies.

Kessler is dean and vice chancellor for medical affairs at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) School of Medicine and had served as commissioner of the FDA from 1990 until 1997. As commissioner, he accelerated the drug approval process for promising therapies for life-threatening illnesses, including AIDS; improved the medical device approval process; instituted preventive controls for food safety; initiated nutrition labeling for food; established new safety regulations for the nation’s blood supply; and developed the MEDWatch program for reporting adverse events and product problems.

He instituted a program to regulate the marketing and sale of tobacco products to children and spearheaded a major investigation that led to the revelation that tobacco companies not only had known for years that nicotine was an addictive drug, but had manipulated the levels of nicotine in cigarettes. He chronicled this investigation in his book “A Question of Intent” (PublicAffairs, 2001).

McAnarney, professor and chair of the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry and pediatrician-in-chief of the Golisano Children’s Hospital at Strong, is recognized for her efforts in developing community-based programs to improve the health and well-being of children, overseeing integrated medical care programs for children and mentoring and career development of academic physicians.

McAnarney’s scholarship focuses on adolescent pregnancy and adolescent childbearing. For more than 20 years, she and her colleagues have designed and evaluated intervention programs for pregnant adolescents including those related to adolescent nutrition and infant birth weight. She was instrumental in developing Pediatric Links with the Community, a program that encourages pediatric residents and medical students to spend time in community settings.

McAnarney’s vision for pediatric care, including community-based and integrated hospital-based programs, provided the direction for a successful $30 million capital campaign that received a capstone $14 million gift from B. Thomas Golisano in 2002 to support children’s services within the newly named Golisano Children’s Hospital at Strong.

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