The Law & Health Care Program at Maryland Carey Law uniquely prepares its graduates for careers in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), according to some of the many alumni who have gone on to serve in the agency’s ranks. The health law program offers internships or externships at the FDA, which led many grads to full-time jobs. In other cases, alumni said many qualities of the program prepared them for the FDA in critical ways.
Brian Kehoe, JD ’07, started at the FDA as an intern during his final year of law school. Kehoe, who has an undergraduate degree in microbiology, had worked in the pharmaceutical industry for several years before attending law school. “My intent, going to law school, was to blend my experience in science with law,” Kehoe said. “I chose Maryland in part because of the strong health law program.”
Kehoe’s internship led to a position in the Office of Legislation, where he worked as a legislative analyst, briefing congressional staff on FDA policy and procedures. He spent nine years at the FDA, most recently serving as Director of Intergovernmental Affairs in the Office of the Commissioner. Recently, Kehoe moved to the Department of Health and Human Services where he focuses on issues related to the FDA in the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Legislation. Kehoe says Maryland Carey Law opened his eyes to all areas of health law.
“One thing I’ve really valued is that I received a well-rounded introduction to health law, especially in areas I have never practiced,” Kehoe said. That broad education, he added, prepared him for his various roles in federal health policy agencies.
Samantha Collado, JD ’16, MPH, also had an internship that blossomed into a career at the FDA. Collado began as an intern in the Office of Regulation in the Center for Tobacco Products at the FDA while still a health law program student. Now, she is a regulatory counsel in the same office. “The health law program really gave me the legal skills to do what I’m doing here – the legal tools, research skills, analytical thinking skills and regulatory writing,” Collado said. She now writes notices published in the Federal Register that provide guidance on tobacco products. Collado felt her education was unique in its focus on real-world experience in legal writing – she wrote briefs for the clients of the Drug Policy Clinic, and even wrote proposed state legislation. “I don’t think you get that same experience anywhere else,” Collado said.
Dominic Cirincione, JD ’10, met Law & Health Care Program managing director Virginia Rowthorn, JD, LLM, while still an undergraduate at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. He has worked at the FDA since graduating in 2010, now in the FDA’s Office of Prescription Drug Promotion. Rowthorn was an inspiration before he began law school, and that continued once he joined the Law & Health Care Program. He found the mix of faculty to be ideal, and the externship opportunities allowed him to find the best place for his future career.
“I think it’s a nice combination of full-time faculty and adjuncts that have practical learning experience,” Cirincione said. “They can say, ‘this is how it really works in the real world.’”
Before joining the health law program, Minerva Hughes, JD ’15, PhD, already had built a career at the FDA as a regulatory scientist. “I think if you look at the whole health care ecosystem, law and policy seem to be at the intersection of it all,” she said of her decision to get a law degree. Even with her experience as a scientist, “I don’t think I appreciated how vast health care law is coming to the law school,” Hughes said. “There are so many issues that are important to ensuring we have a good health care system and that there is appropriate access to care.” Splitting her time working at the FDA and getting her JD wasn’t easy, “but it was worth it in the end,” Hughes said.