Statement of Agriculture Secretary Vilsack on the Confirmations of Drs. Elisabeth Hagen and Catherine Woteki | USDA Newsroom
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Release No. 0471.10
USDA Office of Communications (202) 720-4623

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Statement of Agriculture Secretary Vilsack on the Confirmations of Drs. Elisabeth Hagen and Catherine Woteki

WASHINGTON, September 16, 2010 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack made the following statements after the U.S. Senate voted to confirm Dr. Elisabeth Hagen as Under Secretary for Food Safety, and Dr. Catherine Woteki as Under Secretary for Research, Education, and Economics.

"There is no higher priority at USDA than ensuring that Americans have access to a safe and healthy food supply, and Dr. Hagen's background as the Chief Medical Officer and senior executive within USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service will enable her to successfully lead the effort to develop and execute the agency's scientific and public health agenda and continue to build the coordination with public health partners at federal, state, and local level needed to achieve the objectives of President Obama's Food Safety Working Group."

"USDA science is working to improve human health, protect our environment and bring about our generation's new era of agricultural science. As a tireless champion of science's power not just to create knowledge but to improve the lives and health of all Americans, Dr. Catherine Woteki brings an incredible depth of experience that will help USDA accelerate scientific discovery and application of new knowledge to address challenges facing US and global food and agriculture. I am delighted to welcome such an outstanding advocate for science back to USDA."

Biographical information on Dr. Elisabeth Hagen:

Prior to her nomination as Under Secretary for Food Safety, Dr. Elisabeth Hagen served as the USDA's Chief Medical Officer a senior executive at USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service, where she played a key role in developing and executing the agency's scientific and public health agendas. Before joining the federal government in 2006, Hagen taught and practiced medicine in both the private and academic sectors, most recently in Washington, DC. She holds a M.D. from Harvard Medical School, and a B.S. from Saint Joseph's University. Dr. Hagen completed her specialty medical training at the University of Texas Southwestern and the University of Pennsylvania, and is board certified in infectious diseases. In addition to several hospital and university appointments, her experience includes research and publications and infectious diseases and providing medical care to underserved populations. She is married and lives with her husband and two young children in Northern Virginia.

Biographical information on Dr. Catherine Woteki:

From 1997-2001, Dr. Woteki served as the first Under Secretary for Food Safety at USDA, overseeing the Food Safety and Inspection Service and the U.S. government's Office for the Codex Alimentarius Commission, and coordinated U.S. government food safety policy development and USDA's continuity of operations planning. She worked for two years in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy where she co-authored the Clinton Administration's policy statement, "Science in the National Interest," and served as the Deputy Under Secretary for Research, Education and Economics in the USDA. From 2002-2005, she was Dean of Agriculture and Professor of Human Nutrition at Iowa State University, where she also was the head of the Agriculture Experiment Station. Since 2005, Dr. Woteki has served as Global Director of Scientific Affairs for Mars, Inc., where she managed the company's scientific policy and research on matters of health, nutrition, and food safety. Dr. Woteki's research interests include nutrition, food safety policy, risk assessment, and health survey design and analysis. She is the author of over 60 refereed scientific articles and 12 books and technical reports. During her tenure as Director of the Food and Nutrition Board at the National Academy of Sciences, she had direct responsibility for 27 studies and co-authored a nutrition book entitled Eat for Life which became a Book of the Month Club selection.