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When Dr. Amy Abernethy arrived at the Food and Drug Administration last year, the former Flatiron health executive saw an urgent need for the agency to embrace technology and update its infrastructure.

“We’re not necessarily prepared to both marshal in the world of digital medicine, and how we’re going to push forward with using data and technology differently, nor were we really prepared as an agency to be able to accelerate what we do using data and technology,” said Abernethy, the FDA’s principal deputy commissioner of food and drugs, at the STAT Summit in Cambridge, Mass., late last year.

And that need, she said, goes beyond simply buying new, faster computers.


“We really have this very rapidly expanding book of work that you want to make sure that we’re able to scale with all of biomedicine so we that can regulate in lockstep and continue to help keep moving things along,” Abernethy said.

A year ago, Dr. Amy Abernethy left industry to take a top job at the FDA. She talks about embracing technology, the promise (and limitations) of data from the real world, CBD, and more. STAT