The acting commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration will vacate his role on Friday because of a federal law that limits service in the position to 210 days.
Dr. Ned Sharpless will return to his role as director of the National Cancer Institute, HHS Secretary Alex Azar announced in a news release. HHS' Assistant Secretary for Health, Brett Giroir, will take over the duties of the position until a new commissioner is appointed.
President Donald Trump nominated Dr. Stephen Hahn to take the FDA's helm, and the administration hopes for an "expeditious confirmation," according to the release.
The Federal Vacancies Reform Act holds that an individual cannot serve in an acting capacity for more than 210 days. Friday marks Sharpless' 210th day in the role.
Azar said in a statement that under Sharpless' leadership, the FDA has forged ahead in its work to protect the public health.
"Dr. Sharpless's willingness to step into the role of acting commissioner, and to lead the team at FDA with a steady hand, ensured that the agency did not miss a beat in advancing its vital mission," he said. "With Dr. Sharpless at the helm, the FDA has executed on its core responsibilities while also making progress on key priorities, such as lowering the price of prescription drugs and tackling the growing epidemic of youth use of tobacco products."
Back at NCI, Azar said Sharpless will continue in his previous priorities, including pediatric cancer, rural cancer care and precision medicine.