The Power List 2020 – Power List
Director at the Office of Health Technology, Ophthalmic, Anesthesia, Respiratory, ENT, & Dental Devices, Office of Product Evaluation and Quality, Food and Drug Administration, MD, USA
Piece of advice for your younger self?
Take the time to stop and analyze every failure to see how it can become an opportunity for improvement.
The most serendipitous moment of your career?
Within a couple of months after my arrival at the FDA, the other ophthalmologists in my office left the agency. Suddenly, I was responsible for the clinical review of every ophthalmic device submission we received. I had to very quickly become familiar with technical aspects of all ophthalmic devices as well as learn all of the regulations governing them. In order to meet all of the statutory deadlines, I learned how to maximize my own efficiency and mastered the art of delegation of tasks that did not require my expertise. Additionally, I was asked to represent the FDA on National and International Standards committees, assignments usually given to senior FDA reviewers. This was an incredible and challenging opportunity to learn the global regulatory paradigm and to master negotiation skills.
The most unexpected turn your career took?
After graduating from Harvard Medical School as an ophthalmologist, I was looking forward to a fulfilling career in direct patient care. While deciding between a number of lucrative offers in private practice and academia, I flipped to the advertisements page in ophthalmology and saw an ad for an ophthalmic medical officer at the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health. Having an undergraduate degree in Engineering, a graduate degree in Health Science and Technology from MIT, and a patent for an ophthalmic device, I thought it would be very interesting to talk to FDA staff. I was overwhelmed by the scope of the work and the potential impact I could have by working at the FDA. I was thrilled when the offer came, I accepted it and in the nearly 25 years since, being at the FDA continues to be more satisfying – and impactful - than I had ever imagined.