Government fellowship opportunities for doctors seeking pharma careers

Jan 28, 2019

There is no doubt that the federal government makes a significant investment in training those who will subsequently work to improve the nation’s health. This investment results in an awesome selection of programs that can prepare you not just for a career with the US government, but also for many lucrative and exciting jobs within the pharmaceutical industry.

Plenty of these programs are appropriate for doctors and other medical providers. There are opportunities for medical students, early-career physicians in all stages of their training, and others who are looking to shift their career focus.

Moreover, they’re offered in an assortment of geographic locations and range in time from a few months to several years. So, whatever your situation, federal government fellowship programs are worth looking into if you’re interested in branching out your expertise or doing something new with your medical background.

Here are six federal government fellowship programs that are great options for doctors who want to break into pharma.

Commissioner’s Fellowship Program

This is a mix of coursework and hands-on experience with new drug application reviews and regulatory science. Each fellowship class consists of a broad range of participants, including engineers, healthcare professions, and scientists.

Length – Two years

Location – FDA headquarters in Maryland

Eligibility – Physicians, vets, dentists, pharmacists, and PhDs who received their doctoral degree within the past 7 years.

Application deadline – July

ORISE Fellowship

This group of educational and training programs with FDA is managed by the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE). The available projects are always changing.

Length – Variable. Usually a maximum of one year, but can be extended in certain situations.

Location – Most appointments are at the FDA headquarters in Maryland, but there are occasional offerings at regional FDA offices, the National Center for Toxicological Research in Arkansas, and other locations.

Eligibility – Current college students, recent graduates (within the past five years), and university faculty. Projects often have their own, more specific eligibility requirements.

Application deadline – Accepted year-round.

Emory/CDC Medical Toxicology Fellowship

The best public health training combines domestic and international experiences, and that’s exactly what this program does. Fellows receive education in epidemiology, stats, scientific writing, public health risk assessment, and more. But they also are deployed for outbreak investigations and research.

Length – Two years

Location – Atlanta, GA with variable international travel

Eligibility – MD/DOs or foreign medical graduates who are able to obtain a license in the US. Must meet standard requirements for a government Medical Officer position.

Application deadline – September of the year before your July 1st start date.

Interagency Oncology Task Force Fellowship

Though focused on oncology, the training in this fellowship will prepare you well for a pharma career in any therapeutic area. Fellows are trained in research, regulatory review, and policy as it relates to drug and medical product regulation. Some fellows earn an MPH or Masters of Clinical Investigation during the program.

Length – Two to four years, depending on the fellowship track.

Location – Multiple locations, including National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, US Food and Drug Administration, and other divisions of Health and Human Services. These are primarily based in the Washington, DC area.

Eligibility – There are four tracks that make up this program, which vary in their eligibility requirements. Two tracks require a medical degree plus oncology subspecialty training, though the others are more flexible.

Application deadline – Depends on the fellowship tract you’re applying for. Deadlines are January 31st, May 31st, and August 25th.

NCI Cancer Prevention Fellowship Program

This is a very research-heavy program with a goal of providing fellows with opportunities for meaningful discoveries. Reporting of findings in journals and at national meetings is encouraged. You can also earn an MPH along the way.

Length – Up to four years

Location – National Cancer Institute in Rockville, MD

Eligibility – MD, PhD, or other doctoral degree in a related discipline, and less than 5 years of relevant postdoctoral experience.

Application deadline – August 25th

FDA/ISMP Fellowship

The Institute for Safe Medication Practices has partnered with the FDA to offer this fellowship aimed at providing valuable regulatory experience and hands-on learning about the most current approaches to advancing medication safety and error prevention.

Length – One year

Location – Half at the FDA in Silver Spring, MD, and half at the ISMP in Horsham, PA

Eligibility – Healthcare professional (MD, PharmD, or others) with at least one year of postgraduate clinical experience.

Application deadline – March 31st

Intrigued by these opportunities but are finding that none of them fit your personal situation? Keep looking! There are other options that will prepare you well for a career in pharma.

To highlight a few additional options, take a look at the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality’s Career Development Awards and the FDA’s full list of fellowship opportunities. There are many non-governmental fellowships available as well. Consider rotational programs sponsored by leading pharmaceutical companies or other private organizations.

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