COLUMBUS, Ohio—Barbara Kowalcyk, who directs the Center for Foodborne Illness Research and Prevention (CFI) at The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES), has been appointed chair of the Science Board to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Kowalcyk, who was first appointed to the FDA Science Board in 2013, is faculty with the CFAES Department of Food Science and Technology (FST) and Ohio State’s Translational Data Analytics Institute.
Established in 1992, the FDA Science Board advises the federal agency on complex scientific and technical issues and provides input on the agency’s research agenda and on upgrading scientific and research facilities and training opportunities. The board is composed of 21 voting members, including a chair and co-chair, which are appointed by the FDA commissioner.
“FDA plays a critical role in protecting public health, and its policies must be informed by the best available scientific evidence. Serving on the Science Board provides an opportunity for scientists outside of FDA to contribute to these efforts,” Kowalcyk said. “I am honored to be appointed as chair.”
“Dr. Kowalcyk is a very well-respected food safety expert and has made great contributions to the Science Board over the years, including as a member of the National Antibiotic Resistance Monitoring System Review Subcommittee and as chair of the Office of Regulatory Affairs
Food Emergency Response Network Cooperative Agreement Program Evaluation Subcommittee,” said Jacqueline O’Shaughnessy, PhD, FDA’s acting chief scientist.
“We are grateful for her many years of service as a member of the Science Board to the Food and Drug Administration and are delighted that she agreed to serve as chairperson,” O’Shaughnessy said. “She has a thorough understanding of the agency’s role in protecting and promoting public health and will utilize her extensive expertise and experience as she leads the Science Board in providing advice to the agency on many issues that are important to our mission.”
Kowalcyk founded CFI with her mother, Patricia Buck, a food safety advocate and educator, after her son, Kevin, died in 2001 at age 2 1/2 from complications from an E. coli O157:H7 infection that he most likely contracted from eating contaminated ground meat. Since his death, Kowalcyk has devoted her career to preventing foodborne illnesses and deaths by advocating for stronger food safety systems.
CFI was established as a center within CFAES in August 2019 to further Ohio State and CFI’s global leadership in food safety. CFI focuses on translating science into practical, evidence-informed policies and practices that protect public health and prevent foodborne diseases. CFI has been involved in numerous research projects that advance risk-based, data-driven approaches to food safety, including current projects in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Guatemala.
CFI’s advocacy, outreach, and learning programs focus on raising awareness about the scope and impact of foodborne illnesses, and on building strategic partnerships to advance these goals.