Trinity alumnus named first female head of the European Medicines Agency

Emer Cooke will be leading the agency at a crucial time for public health in the European Union

Trinity alumnus Emer Cooke has been named the new executive director of the European Medicines Agency (EMA). She will be the first woman to lead the EMA in its 25-year history. 

The EMA is a decentralised agency of the European Union (EU). The agency is responsible for the scientific evaluation, supervision, and safety monitoring of medicines in the EU. The post-pandemic world is expected to be a crucial time for the regulatory body, as the EU may seek to expand its power in the public health sector. 

The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the possibility of the EMA playing a larger role in public health in the EU. During the pandemic it has been important in promoting research into potential medicines to treat Covid-19 and in streamlining their approval process. 

The EMA’s powers could extend beyond sourcing new medicines to creating networks of clinical trials as the EU seeks to avoid pharmaceutical shortages and prepare for the possibility of other epidemics. 

Cooke will be moving to the EMA from her role with the World Health Organisation (WHO) in Geneva as Director of the Regulation and Prequalification Department, a role which she has held since November 2016. 

Cooke has 30 years of experience in international regulatory affairs, and began her career in the Irish pharmaceutical industry. She worked in the pharmaceutical unit of the European Commission from 1998-2002, and then worked at the EMA from 2002 until her appointment with the WHO in 2016. 

Cooke holds a degree in pharmacy as well as two masters degrees in science and in business administration, all from Trinity. 

Cooke was nominated by the EMA’s Management Board on 25 June and is set to be formally appointed on 13 July after giving a statement to the European Parliament’s Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI). After her formal appointment there is expected to be an extended handover period before her predecessor, Executive Director Guido Rasi, ends his term on 15 November.

Kate Glen

Kate Glen is a News Analysis Editor for Trinity News. She is a Senior Sophister History and Political Science student.