On January 1, Utah State University Vice President for Research and Dean of the School of Graduate Studies Mark McLellan became the 2017 chair of the FDA Science Board.

Since 2014, McLellen has served on the FDA Science Board as an expert in the areas of food science, education and research administration. Appointed last spring, McLellan will continue serving as the inaugural chair of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Science Advisory Council. McLellan is the first to serve on both councils simultaneously.

“I’m excited to serve in this position with the FDA,” McLellan said. “I care deeply about the issues covered by the Science Board and am honored to be appointed as chair.”

McLellan has been an active agricultural scientist, first serving as university dean and director of the Florida Agricultural Experiment Station and later as director of the Institute of Food Science and Engineering at Texas A&M University and professor of food science at Cornell University. He is currently a tenured professor in USU’s Department of Nutrition, Dietetics and Food Science.

McLellan provides a passion and commitment essential to the role of an FDA chair.

“He has demonstrated exceptional commitment to furthering FDA’s mission and has been actively engaged in a wide variety of matters that come before the Science Board,” said Dr. Luciana Borio, acting chief scientist of the FDA. “He is a renowned food science expert and research administrator, with tremendous vision, energy and leadership experience.”

As chair of the Science Board, McLellan will head a team of 21 experts, most of whom are medical doctors and human health researchers in fields relevant to FDA-regulated products such as pharmacology, food science, clinical medicine and research, and toxicology. This team meets several times a year to discuss complex scientific and technical issues and provide advice to the commissioner of the FDA.

“Dr. McLellan will bolster the Science Board’s advisory role to the FDA commissioner, especially as the board prepares to tackle numerous complex issues in 2017,” Borio continued.

Matters discussed by the board in 2016 included opioid addiction as a result of pain management, trustworthy sources for anticoagulants in the medical supply and the potentially negative effects of anesthesia on toddlers.

“These issues and future issues of the board can have a profound effect across the nation,” McLellan said. “We want to ensure Americans are safe and that the FDA operates a regulatory decision process that is based upon sound science and common sense.”

-Heather Zollinger, RGS Communications: heather.zollinger@usu.edu