September 28, 2005

Former FDA commissioner to speak at SIUC

by Pete Rosenbery


CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Dr. David A. Kessler, the former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, is delivering the 2005 Dr. Arthur Grayson Distinguished Lecture next week at Southern Illinois University Carbondale's law school.

Kessler presents his lecture at 5 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 6, in the law school auditorium.


Media Advisory

Reporters and photographers are welcome to cover the lecture. David Kessler will be available for interviews after the lecture. For more information contact Michael P. Ruiz, director of admissions, media and community affairs for the law school at 618/453-8858.


Kessler is dean of the School of Medicine and the vice chancellor for medical affairs at the University of California, San Francisco. Prior to his appointment, Kessler served six years as dean of the Yale University School of Medicine.

Kessler "brings a wealth of knowledge about the current status of health care issues," said Peter C. Alexander, dean of the law school at SIUC.

"He will be bringing us an update on the tobacco wars that have been waged in this country for several decades," Alexander said.

Kessler served as commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration from November 1990 until March 1997 – appointed first by President Bush and then reappointed by President Clinton.

Under his direction the FDA announced several new programs, including regulating the marketing and sale of tobacco products to children, nutrition labeling for food, user fees for drugs and biologics, preventative controls for improving food safety and measures to strengthen the nation's blood supply. Kessler also worked at speeding approval of new drugs, and getting promising therapies for serious and life-threatening diseases to patients as quickly as possible.

Kessler has a wide range of experience in research, clinical medicine, education, administration and the law.

Kessler is a 1973 magna cum laude graduate of Amherst College. He received his law degree in 1978 from the University of Chicago Law School, where he was a member of the Law Review. He received his medical degree from Harvard Medical School in 1979, and did his internship and residency in pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins Hospital. He earned an Advanced Professional Certificate from the New York University Graduate School of Business Administration in 1986.

Kessler was medical director of the Hospital of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx, N.Y., from 1984 until his FDA appointment in 1990. He also taught food and drug law at the Columbia University School of Law in New York, and was a consultant to the United States Labor and Human Resources Committee from 1981 to 1984.

Kessler's appearance is significant for the law school, Alexander said.

"We are positioning ourselves as a law school where health law and policy issues are a very important part of the curriculum. Speakers like Dr. Kessler help deliver that message nationwide," Alexander said.

The Garwin Family Foundation, created in 1993 for the purpose of fostering educational and academic research, funds the Grayson Distinguished Lecture. Dr. Leo Garwin, who died in July 2003 at the age of 85, was a founding member of the foundation. The lecture honors Garwin's brother-in-law, a Los Angeles surgeon who died in 1990.

Addressing social and health issues is among the goals of Southern at 150: Building Excellence Through Commitment, the blueprint for the development of the University by the time it celebrates its 150th anniversary in 2019.