The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Center of Tobacco Products (CTP) has announced a new director of its Office of Science (OS), as Matt Holman, Ph.D., will take over for David Ashley, Ph.D., who is retiring in the coming months.

Holman joined FDA in 2001 and has been the director of the OS Division of Product Science since joining CTP in 2011. In that role, he helped to create and implement a system for scientific review of new tobacco products and setting a research agenda in the areas of regulated tobacco product design, ingredients, additives, and constituents, according to FDA.

“Dr. Holman is exceptionally well qualified for this position due to the breadth and depth of his CTP and FDA experience, his commitment to public health and the Tobacco Control Act, his scientific expertise, his demonstrated leadership within OS, and his overall contributions to the advancement of tobacco regulatory science,” said Mitch Zeller, CTP director, via a press release.

Prior to joining CTP, Holman served for three years as deputy division director in the Division of Nonprescription Regulation Development within the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, a role in which he made policy decisions affecting half of the over-the-counter drugs regulated by the division. Holman holds a Ph.D. in biochemistry from the University of Maryland and a B.S. in chemistry from Roanoke College in 1995.

Ashley, who was the first director of CTP’s Office of Science, will remain with CTP for several months according to the agency, providing continuing science and policy advice and ensure a smooth leadership transition.

“Since David Ashley joined CTP in its early days, we have benefited from an extraordinarily accomplished scientist, leader, and public health advocate,” Zeller noted. “As our chief scientist, Dr. Ashley has contributed immeasurably to CTP’s efforts to reduce the health harms caused to tobacco users and to discourage young people and others from taking up tobacco use. We are deeply grateful for his service on behalf of the public health, and wish him the best in his retirement.”

According to its website, the Office of Science at CTP is responsible for identifying, developing, and enhancing the science related to tobacco products, their use, and the resulting morbidity and mortality so that regulatory decisions will have the greatest impact on improving public health. To accomplish this goal they provide the scientific support for regulations and guidance, review tobacco product applications, evaluate the knowledge basis for regulatory decisions, and carry out research to fill the gaps in scientific knowledge related to tobacco product regulation.

This is important for cigar smokers as the agency is expected to begin analyzing data from the testing of premium cigars for the first time thanks to the new deeming regulations implemented last August.

Holman will officially direct the office effective March 13.

Patrick Lagreid

I strive to capture the essence of a cigar and the people behind them in my work – every cigar you light up is the culmination of the work of countless people and often represents generations of struggle and stories. For me, it’s about so much more than the cigar – it’s about the story behind it, the experience of enjoying the work of artisans and the way that a good cigar can bring people together. In addition to my work with halfwheel, I’m the public address announcer for the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks during spring training, as well as for the Salt River Rafters of the Arizona Fall League, the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury and the Arizona Rattlers of the Indoor Football League. I also work in a number of roles for MLB.com, plus I'm a voice over artist. I previously covered the Phoenix and national cigar scene for Examiner.com, and was an editor for Cigar Snob magazine.