It isn’t easy maneuvering around the sprawling, well-manicured White Oak Campus in Silver Spring, Md., where Janet Woodcock ’70 presides
over the Food and Drug Administration’s
Center for Drug Evaluation and Research
(CDER). The mazelike layout of the
campus gives one indication of just how
complex Woodcock’s job is directing
CDER, whose mission is ensuring that
drugs are safe, e�ective and available.
Finding one’s way to the proper high-rise building and
then through the security phalanx and up to her sixth-floor
office takes time. Everything about Woodcock’s vast area
of responsibility takes time. Managing 45 offices and a staff
of 5,000 government employees, this research-scientist-turned-CEO oversees the approval of all prescription and
nonprescription drugs in the United States.
On their way to her office, visitors pass through a room
where exotic orchids are arrayed on workers’ desks. To the
right is a walkway to another building, which is lined with
large, leafy green plants, grown and bestowed, as were the
orchids, by Woodcock, an inveterate gardener.
Woodcock greets visitors in her large corner office, with
its beige wood furniture and a balcony that overlooks the
White Oak grounds. Prominent on the walls are photos of
her two daughters and art by the one who’s in medical school
now. Petite with short brown hair tucked behind her ears,
Woodcock has an easy, warm manner and a steady smile as
When asked how long it takes to get a drug approved, she
spends a patient 10 minutes explaining every step.
By Sherri Kimmel
Photography by James Kegley