CDR Samantha Spindel, PhD, MEng, Engineering Branch Chief
“FDA has a unique and important mission. No other federal agency is tasked with making decisions about which medical or tobacco products can enter the U.S. market.”—CDR Samantha Spindel, PhD, MEng, Engineering Branch Chief, Office of Science, Center for Tobacco Products
Q: Why did you seek a career at FDA?
Samantha Spindel: After working on theoretical projects during my undergraduate and graduate training, I wanted to do something "real" and worthwhile that could have a positive impact on others. I was drawn to the mission of FDA to protect and promote public health. I am also an officer in the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps and am grateful for the opportunity to serve in different roles such as during deployment to regions of the U.S. hit by hurricanes.
Q: What does FDA offer that you can't find elsewhere?
SS: FDA has a unique and important mission. No other federal agency is tasked with making decisions about which medical or tobacco products can enter the U.S. market. Additionally, as an officer in the Commissioned Corps at FDA, I have the privilege of carrying out the objectives set by our government when responding to major public health threats.
Q: What do you value most about working at FDA?
SS: What I value most about working at FDA is the chance to play a small part in addressing major public health issues. It takes many people and a lot of concerted effort to accomplish tasks as significant as creating new regulations and developing new research projects. It is an honor to be a part of an organization that can positively affect the lives of all Americans.
Q: What surprises you most about working at FDA?
SS: I continue to be surprised by the diversity of the staff who work at FDA. I believe that FDA is able to make more informed decisions because we take into account input from staff who have experience in industry, academia, and the non-profit sector. FDA also employs staff who come from areas all around the U.S. and other countries. This wealth of experience and training affords us the opportunity to consider various internal viewpoints, in addition to the viewpoints of the public, before making decisions.
Q: How is science conducted at FDA different from science conducted at NIH (or other federal agencies), academia, or industry?
SS: FDA’s mission differs from that of NIH, academia, or industry in that everything we do is grounded in statutory mandates and regulations as opposed to conducting basic research, creating products, or researching scientific areas that may not lead to helping create policies to benefit public health.
Q: What piece of advice would you give to an FDA job seeker?
SS: FDA gives you an opportunity to contribute to a worthy mission—protecting, promoting, and advancing public health. The agency is also supportive of work/life balance and offers flexible work schedules to accommodate this priority.