York College Continuing Education and the FDA recently held the 8th Annual Professional Development Workshop for Food and Pharmaceutical Professionals

This year's topic was High-Throughput Methods of Detecting Foodborne Pathogens. Thirty-three scientists from eight countries--Thailand, Vietnam, Mexico, Nigeria, Germany, Canada, China and the U.S.--met to discuss rapid methods of detecting pathogens such as salmonella and eColi in food.

As part of the York College and FDA collaboration, Cynthia Murphy, executive director of Continuing Education at York worked with Dr. Barbara Paul, FDA microbiologist and Greater Jamaica Development Corporation Consultants to produce a hands-on laboratory workshop.  The invited scientists listened to experts on problems related to food safety.  They also participated in hands-on laboratory sessions using the latest equipment and practice for the detection of food contaminants.  York College/FDA interns participated in the workshop as well.  Dr. Paul, who works with the interns said: "This is a valuable experience for interns and an opportunity to meet scientists from all over the world who may at some point be their colleagues and counterparts."

This year's speakers included such notables as Dr. Peter Feng, Research Microbiologist, FDA Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN); Dr. Robert E. Brackett, Chief Science and Regulatory Affairs, Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA); Dr. Jan Vinge, Head, National Calicivirus Laboratory, Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Timothy McGrath, Director, Food Emergency Response Network, National Program Branch. 

"There are many food safety information seminars and online training programs," said Murphy. "However, I don't know of any that gives the participant the opportunity to practice under the guidance of industry experts in an FDA lab."

Afternoon labs were conducted by the industry representatives that manufacture the equipment and develop the processes used in pathogen detection.  This year, five of these companies -- Applied Biosystems, BioMerieux, Matrix Microsystems, Idaho Technology and Neogen -- and Greater Jamaica Development Corporation sponsored a networking dinner.

Carlisle Towery, President of the Greater Jamaica Development Corporation, said, "We have always strongly supported this type of activity with York College.  It is a perfect example of the Town/Gown relationship that strengthens our community."

In an email after the workshop, Nancy Sanchez de Coste, from Puerto Rico, wrote:

We want to thank you for the opportunity of such a great and informative experience.  The contacts we made, the information gathered and the updates are going to be an important part of our procedures reviews.  This is also the start of a close relationship with our folks from FDA because everyone was accessible and eager to help us in any way.   We are planning to discuss what we found new and different with our administrative and field staff to improve our daily work.

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