College of Public Health Grads Help Welcome FDA Commissioner

Margaret Hamburg (front center), Jay Gandy (back right), Ph.D., chair of the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health and director of the Regulatory Science Program at UAMS and nine of the 11 2013 graduates.

Sept. 25, 2013 | Margaret Hamburg, M.D., commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, was in Little Rock Sept. 10-11 to deliver the keynote address at the Global Summit on Regulatory Science, which was hosted by the National Center for Toxicological Research, the FDA’s premier regulatory science research center in Jefferson.

The trip was an opportunity for Hamburg to see the progress that has been made in the past two years since her last visit here, when a memorandum of agreement (MOU) was signed that established a partnership between the FDA and the state of Arkansas to modernize regulatory science in Arkansas. It was the first agreement of its kind between the federal agency and a state. The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS), other academic institutions and state agencies are participating in the partnership.

Following her address, Hamburg presented a plaque to each student in the first cohort of graduates of the UAMS Fay W. Boozman College of Public Health Graduate Program in Regulatory Sciences, after introductions by Jay Gandy, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health and director of the Regulatory Science Program at UAMS.

The Graduate Program in Regulatory Sciences began in the fall 2012 as a direct result of the MOU between the state of Arkansas and the FDA; it produced its first 11 graduates in May. The program consists of 12 hours of coursework offered through the UAMS Graduate School over the fall and spring semesters. It is a collaborative effort among the colleges of Public Health, Pharmacy and Medicine, the UAMS Research Support Center, and the Graduate School.

“Nearly all students in the Regulatory Science program have a Ph.D. or are working on a Ph.D. in fields such as pharmacology/toxicology, molecular biology, endocrinology or biochemistry,” Gandy said. “The program takes highly trained pre- or post-doctoral students and helps them understand how their basic science is applied in the regulatory decision-making process. It takes those who are well-trained in bench science and lets them step back to see applications to human health and connections to the FDA-led process of bringing products to market that can improve public health such as drugs, devises, and safe foods. The goal is to use emerging technologies to develop new methodologies, move regulatory science forward and improve product safety.”

Other entities involved in the partnership with the FDA include the Arkansas Department of Health, Accelerate Arkansas, the Arkansas Science and Technology Authority and the Arkansas Research Alliance.

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