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Web Date: July 22, 2008

FDA Launches Fellowship Program

Agency aims to attract the best scientists to help it overcome numerous challenges
Department: Government & Policy
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EXPERTISE NEEDED
An FDA chemist uses a cell culture from a mouse brain in a bioassay to detect naturally occurring but potentially deadly toxins in seafood.
Credit: Black Star/Michael Falco
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EXPERTISE NEEDED
An FDA chemist uses a cell culture from a mouse brain in a bioassay to detect naturally occurring but potentially deadly toxins in seafood.
Credit: Black Star/Michael Falco

In an attempt to beef up its scientific workforce, the Food & Drug Administration announced on July 17 that it will launch a Commissioner's Fellowship Program this fall that it hopes will attract new recruits to work at the agency. The announcement comes at a time when FDA finds itself short-staffed as it faces challenges brought on by globalization and rapidly emerging technologies.

"FDA is a science-based regulatory agency, and to fulfill our mission over the coming decade, we will need to recruit thousands of highly skilled scientists and others with specialized and relevant expertise," Frank M. Torti, principal deputy commissioner and chief scientist at FDA, said in a written statement.

The new two-year fellowships aim to attract to the agency Ph.D.-level scientists or engineers with a B.S. or higher degree. Between 30 and 40 candidates will be accepted for the first class. Fellows will spend about 30% of their time in courses designed to provide an overview of the science behind FDA's regulatory process. Their remaining time will be spent on an in-depth research project in a specific area of interest under the guidance of a senior FDA scientist. Fellows will receive a competitive stipend, a housing allowance, and travel funds to attend scientific meetings.

Since 1994, FDA has lost about 1,000 scientists, says William K. Hubbard, former senior associate commissioner of FDA. Hubbard has been critical of FDA since he retired from the agency in 2005, claiming that the Bush Administration has shifted the science-based agency to nonscientists who don't have the training or expertise needed. "Any kind of a program that brings in new young scientists and improves training is a good thing," he says, referring to the fellowship program.

FDA is accepting applications for the first class of fellows until Aug. 29. For more information on the fellowship program, go to www.fda.gov/commissionersfellowships.

 
Chemical & Engineering News
ISSN 0009-2347
Copyright © American Chemical Society

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