UH Robert T. Wong, M.D. Lecture Series Features Yale Medical School Dean and Former FDA Commissioner

University of Hawaiʻi
Posted: Oct 7, 2002

Dr. David A Kessler, dean of the Yale University School of Medicine and former commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, is the featured speaker in this year‘s Robert T. Wong, M.D. Lecture Series presented by the John A. Burns School of Medicine at UH Mānoa. Kessler‘s lecture, "Tobacco Wars: Behind the Scenes at the FDA," is scheduled for Monday, October 21, at 7 p.m. at the Queen‘s Medical Center‘s Conference Center Auditorium. It is free and open to the public.

Appointed by President George Bush and reappointed by President Bill Clinton, Kessler served as commissioner of the FDA from 1990 to 1997. Under his leadership, the FDA fought hard to regulate nicotine as a drug and to stop smoking among children by placing new restrictions on tobacco advertisements and vending machines. His book, "A Question of Intent: A Great American Battle with a Deadly Industry," recounts the FDA‘s struggle to regulate tobacco products and its fight against the tobacco industry.

Other important victories during Kessler‘s tenure include the speeding up of the drug approval process to get promising therapies for serious and life-threatening diseases to patients as quickly as possible, improved nutritional labels on food products, stronger controls to improve food safety, improved standards for mammography, and the MEDWatch program for reporting problems with medical service or food and drug products.

Although no longer with the FDA, Kessler continues to speak out on national health issues. He became dean of the Yale University School of Medicine in July 1997. A pediatrician and lawyer, he received his JD degree from The University of Chicago Law School and his MD degree from Harvard Medical School. He serves on the boards of various organizations including the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, National Center for Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, and the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

Kessler has received numerous honors and awards including the 2001 National Academy of Sciences Public Welfare Medal, the American Cancer Society‘s Medal of Honor, the American Academy of Pediatrics Excellence in Public Service Award, and the March of Dimes Franklin Delano Roosevelt Leadership Award.

The Robert T. Wong, M.D. Lectureship was established to leave a legacy to the John A. Burns School of Medicine. The lectureship brings to Hawaiʻi gifted individuals who have made major contributions to medicine. The intent is to bring new ideas in research and clinical medicine to the people in the Pacific Basin.

The Queen‘s Conference Center is located at 510 S. Beretania Street. Visitors should enter via Punchbowl Street. Parking is available at the Queen‘s Medical Center‘s Miller Street Parking Garage for $3 with validation. Visitors requiring disability accommodations should make arrangements prior to the lecture by calling 956-5507.