Eric Perakslis leaves top IT job at FDA

Eric Perakslis

The FDA has lost another chief information officer. After leading an IT reboot at the agency for less than two years, Eric Perakslis quietly left his position effective March 5 and an interim CIO will serve until a permanent replacement is found, FDA spokeswoman Sandy Walsh said in an email to FierceBiotech IT.

The revolving door swings again. The agency has been through 5 CIOs since 2008, according to the Government Accountability Office, which last year slammed the regulator for the high turnover rate in the top job and slow progress in modernizing its IT systems. Perakslis, who joined the agency in 2011 after heading informatics R&D at Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ), brought expertise in open-source and cloud computing from his experience in industry.

FierceBiotechIT was unable to reach Perakslis immediately this morning for more information on his plans. During his short stint in the job, Perakslis managed to complete a new blueprint for IT at the agency and marshaled tech resources behind the Innovative Pathways 2.0 program for speeding reviews of medical devices. He was also a featured speaker last year at the annual Bio-IT World Conference & Expo in Boston, which is hosting the meeting once again this week.

"Eric brought a new and strategic direction to the office that has not only resulted in the first FDA IT Strategic Plan, but also has resulted in many project, program and team successes," FDA spokeswoman Walsh said in an email. "Walter S. Harris [the chief operating officer of the agency] will serve as acting CIO until a permanent selection is made."

The FDA spokeswoman didn't provide any information about why Perakslis left his post as CIO and chief scientist of informatics.

Perakslis, who FierceBiotechIT named one of its "Top 10 Biotech Techies" in February, has an international reputation in informatics. At J&J's Centocor unit several years ago, he led a team that created a platform for managing and analyzing translational research data called TranSMART that has since been adopted at other pharma companies and/or academic labs in the U.S. and Europe. And while at J&J he also served as the CIO for the King Hussein Institute for Biotechnology and Cancer in Amman, Jordan.

As many people know, Perakslis survived a battle with kidney cancer and has been active in causes to help patients and support new treatments.

Special Report: Eric Perakslis - Fierce's Top 10 Biotech Techies - 2013