FDA applauds its 10 years at York College

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The head of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration paid a visit to York College last week to celebrate a decade of partnership with the school and look forward to the future by helping bolster downtown Jamaica.

FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg was the special guest at a grand party at the Jamaica college Nov. 3 and praised the North Eastern Regional Laboratory that operates out of the south side of the CUNY campus.

Hamburg said the success of the facility was a testament to the hard work her members and the college’s staff did to tap the potential of the partnership.

“For the past 10 years, you have hosted our scientists and researchers on your campus,” Hamburg said at the celebration. “There is much more we can do together.”

The building includes sophisticated labs and FDA agents who inspect various foods, drugs and other perishable goods. York also uses the facility for its biology and chemistry classes.

Former Borough President Claire Shulman and former U.S. Rep. Floyd Flake, who attended the celebration, pushed the federal government to move its Northeast regional lab to southeast Queens. The location was a prime target for the FDA because of its proximity to John F. Kennedy International Airport, which imports thousands of foods and medicines from around the world, according to Hamburg.

The leaders also wanted the FDA to come to the CUNY school to give a much-needed boost to Jamaica. At the time, the community was rebounding from years of high crime and other problems and the FDA’s presence helped to set the stage for several development projects that strengthened the commercial district, including the AirTrain terminal, Carlise Towery, president of the Greater Jamaica Development Corp., said.

“The FDA wanted to be on York Campus because they saw the synergies. We worked our tails off to convince them Jamaica was the best place,” he said.

Since its creation in 2000, the FDA center has provided York science students with its special scholarship and internship programs, according to York spokeswoman Marcia Moxam-Comrie. Hundreds of students have gone on to great success in the science world, including Alonza Cruse, who is now director of the FDA’s Los Angelus office.

“York has always enjoyed the partnership because it is a meaningful partnership,” Moxam-Comrie said.

The partnership will be expanding more in the coming years, according to the FDA commissioner. The agency will continue to use the services at the York building and will offer more programs to students, according to Hamburg.

“Centers of excellence in regulatory science are most likely housed in academic settings,” she said. “We will find new ways to develop new approaches.”

Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4546.

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