Regulatory Focus™ > News Articles > Virginia Cox, FDA's Head of External Affairs, Leaving Agency

Virginia Cox, FDA's Head of External Affairs, Leaving Agency

Posted 05 December 2013 | By

The US Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) top press official, Virginia Cox, will be leaving the agency, agency officials told Focus on Thursday.

Cox, associate commissioner for external affairs, had joined the agency in September 2011 and currently oversees all of FDA's public-facing operations. The position is also crucial in that it oversees FDA's interaction with members of congress, industry, trade groups, trade press and patient groups.

Examples of the office's recent initiatives include the overhaul of FDA's website and the launch of FDA's new patient network, among many others.

Stepping up on an interim basis will be two long-time employees of FDA who are familiar to many within the industry: Erica Jefferson, now deputy director of the office of media affairs, and Steven Immergut, assistant commissioner for media affairs. Immergut will be assuming Cox's job, while Jefferson will in turn assume Immergut's.

In an email to staff, FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg called Cox one of her "most trusted colleagues and advisers" at FDA. 

"While I will no doubt miss her astute observations, sound judgment, and no-nonsense feedback, I know that she leaves FDA having put in place a strong team who will take the reins in continuing the important work that she started," Hamburg remarked.

Hamburg noted only that Cox will be moving on to pursue "other opportunities" in January 2014.


The full email may be found below:

The Food and Drug Administration has been very fortunate to have had the experience, talent, and dedication of Virginia Cox at the helm of the agency's communications efforts for the past two and a half years.  It is therefore difficult for me to share that Virginia will be leaving the Agency in January 2014 to pursue other opportunities.

As Associate Commissioner for External Affairs, Virginia brought a renewed energy to FDA's outreach and communications efforts.  Virginia understood the need to communicate clearly, confidently, and concisely to the American public so that consumers can make better and more informed decisions.  She also led and implemented a reorganization of the Office of External Affairs to better meet this goal.

We are grateful for Virginia's strategic vision and keen ability to communicate effectively to a wide range of constituencies about myriad aspects of our public health mission-from significant agency accomplishments to public health crises.  Moreover, Virginia oversaw her office at a time when FDA made great advances in the world of social media and communications innovation.  Under her direction and guidance, FDA developed and implemented an agency-wide Web & Digital Media strategy which led to, among other things, improving FDA Web operations by making our offerings more customer-centric (resulting in an increase in overall customer satisfaction with our website), increasing FDA's social media profile, and delivering FDA's first mobile website.

On a more personal note, Virginia has been one of my most trusted colleagues and advisors during my tenure here as FDA's Commissioner.  While I will no doubt miss her astute observations, sound judgment, and no-nonsense feedback, I know that she leaves FDA having put in place a strong team who will take the reins in continuing the important work that she started.  To that end, upon her departure, Steven Immergut will assume the role of Acting Associate Commissioner for External Affairs and Erica Jefferson will take over Steven's role as Acting Assistant Commissioner for Media Affairs.


Margaret A. Hamburg, M.D.

Commissioner of Food and Drugs




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