Who: George Sigounas
New role: Administrator of the federal Health Resources and Services Administration, the main federal agency in charge of improving healthcare for rural areas and the medically underserved. HRSA has a $10.5 billion annual budget and nearly 2,000 staffers.
Background: Sigounas, a cancer researcher with a Ph.D. in cell biology and physiology, previously was a professor of medicine at East Carolina University in Greenville, N.C., where he helped establish a bone marrow transplant program. Before that, he was a researcher at the National Institutes of Health and the Naval Medical Center.
Surprise appointment: He replaces HRSA Acting Administrator Jim Macrae, who will move back to heading the agency's Bureau of Primary Health Care. HRSA's last full-time administrator was Mary Wakefield, appointed by President Barack Obama in 2009. The Trump administration's appointment of Sigounas surprised rural health experts and advocates, who noted that Sigounas has no reported background in rural health. His appointment, effective May 1, did not require Senate confirmation.