Career Story by David McMillan, Ph.D., Toxicologist at U.S. Food & Drug Administration
Academia, industry and government: I was always aware of the three career tracks available to biomedical scientists, but as with most fledgling graduate students, I didn’t really know what differentiated them. Pursuit of an academic career was still somewhat en vogue when I started graduate school and it was the only path with which I was familiar. As industry was concerned, I at least understood the distinction between “industry” and “pharma”, but “government” remained elusive. What does it mean to be a government scientist? Do they do bench research? If so, do they write grants? Who do they report to? How does the government monitor clinical trials for pharmaceuticals and ensure patient safety? Who sets policies on environmental toxicant exposure and how are these policies determined? And what exactly does “regulatory” mean?