Former FDA Commissioner joins venture firm that launched Moderna
09/06/2021 // Arsenio Toledo // Views

A former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has just been employed as the chief medical officer of the venture capital firm that launched big pharma company Moderna.

Dr. Stephen Hahn, a radiation oncologist who previously served as the chief medical executive of the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas, became the FDA's 24th commissioner in Dec. 2019. He held this position for just over a year, resigning in Jan. 2021 at the end of former President Donald Trump's term of office.

During Hahn's tenure, he oversaw how the FDA handled the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Hahn also handled the FDA's other regulatory affairs, including clinical trials and the development of vaccines, medical devices, diagnostics and other therapeutics.

In Dec. 2020, Hahn oversaw the agency's processing of the emergency use authorization applications for the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines. He was also responsible for canceling the FDA's placebo-controlled trials, which were meant to examine hydroxychloroquine's potential to treat COVID-19.

Hahn to head Moderna investors' global preemptive medicine agenda

On June 15, venture capital firm Flagship Pioneering announced Hahn will lead the company's nascent Preemptive Medicine and Health Security initiative as its chief medical officer.

Flagship Pioneering is responsible for founding more than 100 scientific ventures with over $90 billion in total value. It directly controls over 40 companies, including Moderna.

Noubar Afeyan, CEO and founder of Flagship Pioneering, currently serves as Moderna's chairman. Flagship Pioneering also holds a 6.1 percent stake in Moderna and 20 million shares of the company's stock, which are currently valued at more than $4 billion. (Related: Contaminated Moderna covid vaccines are KILLING people in Japan… how does anyone know whether contaminated batches were already administered in the USA or elsewhere?)


"The COVID-19 pandemic brought into stark focus how important it is to bring increased attention and investment to our health security globally, and to preemptive medicine more broadly," said Afeyan in a news release.

"We are delighted that Flagship will benefit from Steve's clinical and administrative leadership in helping us dimension and pursue our growing number of explorations and companies in this emerging field," he added.

Before Flagship Pioneering announced Hahn's employment as the company's newest chief medical officer, the company announced the closing of its seventh fund. It raised a total of $3.4 billion after reopening for new investments in April of this year. Afeyan said this sum will be sufficient to back between 20 to 25 new companies, around a dozen of which are already in the process of getting set up.

Preemptive Medicine and Health Security will be supported by some of those new funds. Its focus will reportedly be on developing therapeutic interventions aimed at improving a person's health before he or she gets sick.

"The importance of investing in innovation and preemptive medicine has never been more heightened," said Hahn in a statement. "The more we can embrace a 'what if' approach, the better we can support and protect the health and well-being of people here in the U.S. and around the world."

News of Hahn's employment by Flagship Pioneering has spurred intense criticism regarding the "revolving door" of government employees going corporate after their terms expire. His situation has been compared to that of Scott Gottlieb and Margaret Hamburg.

Gottlieb served as the 23rd commissioner of the FDA from 2017 to 2019. After his term, he was appointed as a member of Pfizer's board of directors. Margaret Hamburg, the first FDA commissioner to serve under former President Barack Obama, is now a board member of Alnylam Pharmaceuticals.

Learn more about the relationship big pharma has with the FDA and other government agencies at

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