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College clippings: Newspaper columns of one possible FDA pick reveal old opinions

Word is that Joshua Sharfstein, Baltimore's 39-year-old health commissioner, is up against another Harvard grad—former New York City Health Commissioner (and Radcliffe College alumna) Margaret Hamburg, 54—to head the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. But two decades ago, Sharfstein was a writer and editorial co-chair at The Harvard Crimson, his alma mater's 136-year-old daily newspaper. (Other Crimson alums include Franklin D. Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, a slew of now-famous journalists and—for full disclosure: ScientificAmerican.com's managing editor, Ivan Oransky.) Sharfstein, like Hamburg, went on to graduate from Harvard Medical School. While there, he raised questions about taking free textbooks from pharmaceutical companies and about political campaign contributions made by the American Medical Association.

All has been quiet on the Sharfstein front since the Washington Post floated his name last month as a possible candidate for the FDA post. But we got to wondering what he had to say on the issues during his college days. A sampling of his Crimson editorials from 1988 to 1991 follows.

Transparency
An Unhealthy Secrecy: 5/8/1991
Campus environmental activists love to raise students' awareness about global ecological issues. Ecolympics raises awareness of the national need to conserve energy. Recycling across campus raises awareness of the chronic depletion of the world's renewable resources. And charting the investment practices of the University raises awareness of how Harvard profits from companies that pollute... MORE

The abortion debate

Conservatives' Abortion Wrongs: 6/4/1991
Congressional debate over abortion tends to boil down to "women" versus "babies." On one side are the liberal appeals to freedom of choice, women's autonomy and the dangers of illegal abortions. On the other are tearful conservative portraits of fragile babies deprived of their fair chance at life... MORE

Infant mortality
A Healthy Life for Infants: 6/5/1989
For years, the problem of infant mortality in America has been a case study of the failure of our health care system... MORE

The Gulf War
Consider the Alternatives: A war in the Gulf isn't necessary: 11/27/1990
President Bush is "tired." Tired, he says, of waiting for Saddam Hussein to surrender unconditionally and withdraw all Iraqi troops from Kuwait... MORE

George H. W. Bush
A Nightmare On My Street: 11/17/1988
I had a horrible nightmare last night: George Herbert Walker Bush was elected President of the United States after claiming to identify with the concerns of the average American. An equally horrific vision of America in 1989 followed... MORE

The politics of history
Who Writes History: 12/16/1989
Ronald Reagan and I have slightly different perspectives on the 1980s. Reagan tends to emphasize the years 1982 to 1984 as the peak of American pride and his own personal appeal. I tend to de-emphasize these years, because I was in junior high school then... MORE

Race relations

Education Not Segregation: 3/9/1989
It is unacceptable for a predominantly white city government to limit the educational opportunities of minority children by promoting segregation. But it is also wrong for minority advocacy groups to level this serious charge against legitimate proposals for educational reform... MORE

Republicans of 1989
The GOP's Changing Guard: 3/23/1989
Meet Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.), the second-highest ranking Republican in the House of Representatives. Yesterday morning, House Republicans elected him the new minority whip over Rep. Edward Madigan, a highly respected legislator from Illinois... MORE

Landing a new job… and the second amendment
No-Nos of Job Interviews, 2/10/1990
There are just three simple and easy steps to the perfect job interview. First buy a gun. Next go to the interview. Finally, tell the interviewer in a very direct way that you and your "itchy trigger finger Sam" are very, very qualified for job. Don't forget to shake hands firmly when leaving... MORE

Image courtesy of Baltimore City Health Department

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