Training the Next Generation of Innovators
One of the challenges of the current state of the U.S. economy is the availability of jobs, including those in the biomedical enterprise, that require highly technical and practical knowledge and expertise. Many of these jobs remain unfilled, even in a time of significant unemployment, because there are not enough qualified candidates with the necessary skill sets to fill them. Because of the nature of the work performed at FDA, there is an opportunity to provide these important skill sets to early- and mid-career professionals—both to bring top talent into the Agency and to equip up-and-coming professionals in the private sector with the experience and knowledge they need to develop innovative new treatments and therapies for American patients.
Building on the success of FDA’s Commissioner’s Fellowship program, a competitive two-year program that provides on-the-job training for early- and mid-career scientists and health professionals, FDA is designing a new Future Innovators Program that will bring practical regulatory science and policy training together to meet the scientific and technological demands of the 21st century. Under this competitive program, FDA will hire qualified candidates who show outstanding promise in their fields for a short-term position within the Agency.
These candidates will receive hands-on training across multiple disciplines, including regulatory affairs, manufacturing, diagnostics, computational science, biomedical device engineering, and design and development of complex therapeutics such as cell-based therapies. These Future Innovators will benefit the Agency by providing outside expertise and perspectives, while they, in turn, will be provided with highly marketable skills and knowledge that will equip them for highly technical jobs in a variety of fields, such as the biotechnology/pharmaceutical industry, diagnostic or device companies, the public health sector, academia, non-profits, health care administration and delivery, manufacturing, and consulting. In addition, the retention of some Future Innovators will help ensure a pool of highly trained personnel to sustain the Agency as the current workforce turns over or retires.
The Agency plans to create this program by working with the Reagan-Udall Foundation, a non-profit organization affiliated with FDA, to enhance its existing fellowship program. Overall, FDA believes it can serve as a rich job training ground to help develop qualified candidates for these important but often unfilled positions, thereby expanding and enhancing a U.S.-based, highly-trained technical workforce.