Food & Drug Agency unveils plan to recruit young science staff

The Food and Drug Administration has unveiled a plan for recruiting young work staff to replace the many hundreds of scientists retiring or due to retire shortly from the agency.

The FDA said Thursday it will launch a two-year fellowship programme for physicians, chemists, statisticians and other science professionals interested in food and drug regulation. About 30 to 40 fellows will be accepted for the first programme, which begins in October. Some of those accepted are expected to stay on as full-time employees after completing the program, which includes workshops and seminars.

USA Congress has been pressuring the agency, which employs over 10,000 staff, to improve its operations, strengthen its inspections and hire more qualified experts.

The average age of the FDA’s work force is 55, and about 32 percent of general staffers already are eligible to retire. The US drug & food agency is working to replace more than 705 employees by October.

Recently many senior FDA scientists have retired and joined consulting companies like Quintiles, which advises Pfizer Inc., Merck & Co. Inc. and other drugmakers.

“To fulfill our goals over the coming decade we will need to recruit thousands of highly skilled scientists and others with specialized and relevant expertise,” said FDA’s Principal Deputy Commissioner Frank Torti.

Associated Press 07.18.08, 8:43 AM ET

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