HHS.gov Archive

News Release

Thursday, April 8, 2004

Contact: OHRP Public Affairs
(301) 435-5654

Bernard A. Schwetz to Head Office for Human Research Protections

HHS Secretary Tommy G. Thompson today announced the appointment of Bernard A. Schwetz, D.V.M., Ph.D., as the director of the Office for Human Research Protections (OHRP). Dr. Schwetz had served as acting director of that office since February 2003.

OHRP leads the department's efforts to ensure the protection of human subjects in research. The office monitors programs at more than 10,000 HHS-funded universities, hospitals and other medical and behavioral research institutions in the United States and abroad.

"Dr. Schwetz brings a wealth of experience to this critical mission," Secretary Thompson said. "Human subject protections within the clinical research enterprise will benefit from his strong and positive leadership."

As director, Dr. Schwetz said he will work to maximize the availability of the OHRP staff -- and their extensive knowledge -- to the research community. This will include an increased presence of OHRP personnel at institutions for activities such as quality improvement within the institution's human subject protection program. Responding to requests from the research community, Dr. Schwetz aims to work to provide more OHRP guidance on the interpretation of the HHS regulations.

In bringing a focus to some of the broader aspects of human research protections, Dr. Schwetz will develop a public communications program to help assure that subjects in clinical trials have access to and knowledge about their rights as participants. He also will provide information to help educate the general public about opportunities for involvement in research.

Prior to joining OHRP as acting director in February 2003, Dr. Schwetz served as the senior advisor for science at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and a Distinguished Scientist at the University of Maryland, College Park, Md. He was the acting principal deputy commissioner of the FDA from January 2001 to February 2002 and before that the agency's acting deputy commissioner and senior advisor for science. He also chaired the FDA's Institutional Review Board (IRB) for the protection of human subjects.

Before holding these posts, Dr. Schwetz served as the director of FDA's National Center for Toxicological Research in Jefferson, Ark., from 1993 to 1999. A Diplomat of the American Board of Toxicology and Honorary Diplomat of the American Veterinary Epidemiology Society, Dr. Schwetz was acting director of the Environmental Toxicology Program at the National Institutes of Health's National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) before coming to the FDA in 1993. He was also the associate director of the National Toxicology Program there. Dr. Schwetz is an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences Institute of Medicine.

Dr. Schwetz received the U.S. Government's 1998 Meritorious Executive Presidential Rank Award. He received the Distinguished Service Award of the American College of Toxicology in 2000 and the Merit Award of the Society of Toxicology in 2002.


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Last Revised: April 8, 2004