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FDA Postdoctoral Fellowship - Research Microbiologist in Produce Safety

*Applications will be reviewed on a rolling-basis, and this opportunity will remain open until filled.

A research opportunity is currently available within the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN) / Office of Food Safety to conduct laboratory research on produce safety. The participant will conduct research at the Division of Food Processing Science and Technology located in Bedford Park, Illinois.

Consumption of contaminated produce has been linked to many cases of foodborne illness in recent years. The Food Safety Modernization Act, including the Produce Safety Rule, requires an understanding of preventive controls for hazards that may be present in these foods. Because produce may become contaminated from pre-harvest to post-processing, and because there is no expectation of hazard control measures to be performed by consumers, a combination of strategies is necessary to achieve risk reduction while retaining product quality. The overall goal of this fellowship is to aid in, "Control of Foodborne Pathogens in Produce" through completion of laboratory research that supports FDA guidance and policy.

This project will investigate practices that will help to improve the safety of ready-to-eat minimally processed produce. The participant will conduct and lead research that will investigate different approaches to improving food safety, such as: detection, behavior, and survival of foodborne pathogens in produce; physical and/or chemical interventions to improve food safety during processing; including cross-contamination. The microbial hazards may include: Listeria monocytogenes, pathogenic Escherichia coli, Salmonella enterica, and foodborne parasites.
The participant will be trained in food microbiology, as needed, and will continue to develop as a primary investigator through the formulation of milestones and completion of laboratory research projects involving bacterial foodborne pathogens. The project will provide diverse experience and training in the areas of basic food microbiology, including safe handling of foodborne microbial pathogens in the laboratory; complex assays such as conventional and rapid assays for detection, identification and enumeration of pathogens in food; determinations of pathogen growth and inactivation kinetics, such as growth rate and D-value determinations; analysis of foodborne microbial pathogens and microbial communities in foods using molecular techniques such as genomics. The participant will also gain experience in data analytics as well as dissemination of research findings via summary reports, presentations, and peer-reviewed publications.
Anticipated Appointment Start Date: June 2023; start date is flexible

This program, administered by ORAU through its contract with the U.S. Department of Energy to manage the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education, was established through an interagency agreement between DOE and FDA. The initial appointment is for one year but may be renewed upon recommendation of FDA contingent on the availability of funds. The participant will receive a monthly stipend commensurate with educational level and experience. Proof of health insurance is required for participation in this program. The appointment is full-time at FDA in the Bedford Park, Illinois, area. Participants do not become employees of FDA, DOE or the program administrator, and there are no employment-related benefits.
Completion of a successful background investigation by the Office of Personnel Management is required for an applicant to be on-boarded at FDA. OPM can complete a background investigation only for individuals, including non-US Citizens, who have resided in the US for a total of three of the past five years.

FDA Ethics Requirements

If an ORISE Fellow, to include their spouse and minor children, reports what is identified as a Significantly Regulated Organization (SRO) or prohibited investment fund financial interest in any amount, or a relationship with an SRO, except for spousal employment with an SRO, and the individual will not voluntarily divest the financial interest or terminate the relationship, then the individual is not placed at FDA.  For additional requirements, see FDA Ethics for Nonemployee Scientists. 

FDA requires ORISE participants to read and sign their FDA Education and Training Agreement within 30 days of his/her start date, setting forth the conditions and expectations for his/her educational appointment at the agency. This agreement covers such topics as the following:

  • Non-employee nature of the ORISE appointment
  • Prohibition on ORISE Fellows performing inherently governmental functions
  • Obligation of ORISE Fellows to convey all necessary rights to the FDA regarding intellectual property conceived or first reduced to practice during their fellowship
  • The fact that research materials and laboratory notebooks are the property of the FDA
  • ORISE fellow’s obligation to protect and not to further disclose or use non-public information