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FDA Scientist

Glory

There's a big dose of glory in being able to look at yourself in the mirror and say, "I protecting my fellow human beings." Yes, you're protecting them from bad drugs that might kill or maim them, tainted food and jerry-rigged manufactured goods. You're helping them, too, by OK-ing stuff that could save people's lives, like anti-cancer medicines. And all of this on a government salary.

If you OK a cure-all drug or ban an evil one, manna will rain down from the heavens and hosannas will come your way.

Don't laugh. It's happened in the past, and it can happen again. Take Frances Oldham Kelsey, for example. As a greenhorn FDA scientist in 1960, Kelsey was suspicious about the safety of a new sedative already widely used in Britain, Germany and about 20 other countries. She refused to approve it for use in the US, although she was under intense pressure from its manufacturer to OK it. It turned out that the sedative, thalidomide, caused severe birth defects in thousands of babies. For her bull-headed steadfastness, Kelsey received the highest civilian honor from President John F. Kennedy.

Now, that's glory to the max. And it could happen to you.

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