Robert Califf, a former Food and Drug Administration commissioner, is expected to be the Biden administration’s choice to once again head the agency, said people familiar with the matter, as the FDA plays a critical role in efforts to fight the Covid-19 pandemic.

President Biden is expected to announce the nomination on Friday, one of the people said. The FDA, which has been clearing the use of Covid-19 vaccines, boosters and drugs, has been operating without a permanent leader since Mr. Biden took office.

If confirmed, Dr. Califf would take over from Acting Commissioner Janet Woodcock. Dr. Califf, a prominent Duke University cardiologist, has worked with drugmakers on clinical trials and led the FDA in 2016 and early 2017 under the Obama administration.

He would lead an agency, which has a $6 billion budget and staff of 18,000 people, that has been working on tight timelines to determine whether experimental Covid-19 shots and medicines work safely for broad use.

An expanded version of this story appears on

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