Emer Cooke takes office as head of EMA

News 16/11/2020

Emer Cooke portrait - EMA's Executive Director
Emer Cooke has begun her mandate as Executive Director of the European Medicines Agency today, 16 November 2020.

Ms Cooke was nominated as Executive Director with a renewable five-year mandate by the Agency’s Management Board on 25 June 2020 and is the first woman at the helm of EMA. She was appointed following her statement to the European Parliament's Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) on 13 July 2020.

“I take up the role of Executive Director of EMA amid a public health crisis of unprecedented scale,” said Emer Cooke on her first day in office. “My number one priority will be to drive forward EMA’s response to the pandemic and the work already ongoing to support the development and approval of safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines and treatments.”

She stressed that the Agency will also have to tackle other major challenges, including antibiotic resistance, supporting new waves of innovation and making the most of the opportunities provided by digitalisation for medicine discovery and development.

“Last week’s announcement of the expansion of EMA’s mandate is an acknowledgement of the trust in our ability to deliver. I look forward to working with the EU regulatory network, the European Commission, and regulators globally, to address these issues and to further promote human and animal health,” she added.

Emer Cooke also takes over the chairperson position at the International Coalition of Medicines Regulatory Authorities (ICMRA), which is currently led by EMA.


  • Ms Cooke has 30 years’ experience in international regulatory affairs, 18 years of which were in leadership roles.
  • She worked for the pharmaceutical unit of the European Commission from 1998 to 2002 and at EMA between 2002 and 2016, where she held positions including Head of Inspections and Head of International Affairs.
  • She was the Director responsible for all medical product-related regulatory activities at the World Health Organization in Geneva between November 2016 and November 2020.
  • Ms Cooke holds a degree in pharmacy from Trinity College, Dublin in Ireland. She has additional Masters degrees in Science and in Business Administration, also from Trinity.
  • Emer Cooke is the fourth Executive Director of EMA. Her predecessors were Fernand Sauer (1994-2000), Thomas Lönngren (2001-2010) and Guido Rasi (November 2011 to November 2014 and November 2015 to November 2020).

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