Tue | Jul 23, 2024

J’can makes history in the US Public Health Service

Published:Saturday | June 15, 2024 | 12:07 AMPaul H. Williams/Gleaner Writer
From left: Rear Admiral Dr Raquel Peat with her mother nurse, Carmen Peat, at Dr Peat’s promotion ceremony on Friday, June 7 at the US Food and Drug Administration in Maryland.
From left: Rear Admiral Dr Raquel Peat with her mother nurse, Carmen Peat, at Dr Peat’s promotion ceremony on Friday, June 7 at the US Food and Drug Administration in Maryland.

On Friday, June 7, there was a promotion ceremony at the Food and Drug Administration in Silver Spring, Maryland in which Jamaica-born Dr Raquel Peat was elevated to the rank of rear admiral (RDML O-7), effective May 1.

The Senate of the Legislature of Louisiana in the United States also recognised the promotion with the passing of a resolution – Senate Resolution No 172– signed by Senator Regina Ashford Barrow.

RDML Peat is a microbiologist and a flag officer in the US Public Health Service (USPHS) Commissioned Corps. As a flag officer, RDML Peat carries the title of assistant surgeon general and is relied on by the US surgeon general and the USPHS to support special initiatives.

She is the first female flag officer for the health services category and the first Jamaican-American flag officer for the USPHS. She is also the first member of Zeta Phi Beta sorority to hold the rank of flag officer in the USPHS.

She has a Doctor of Philosophy and a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Maryland, a Master of Science from Johns Hopkins University, and a Master of Public Health degree from The George Washington University. She also holds a certificate from the Federal Executive Institute’s Leadership for a Democratic Society Programme in the US Office of Personnel Management.

RDML Peat has over 25 years of experience as a senior executive service level leader and technical and regulatory expert, and as a manager and supervisor, in a variety of areas, including drugs, medical devices and tobacco products. She works in the Food and Drug Administration as the director for the Office of Health Technology 6 (OHT6): Office of Orthopaedic Devices in the Office of Product Evaluation and Quality, Centre for Devices and Radiological Health (CDRH).

She is responsible for regulating orthopaedic devices for premarket compliance and postmarket surveillance activities in a total product life cycle organisation, and as the director of the Office of Orthopaedic Devices, she provides executive leadership, guidance, and scientific direction to a multidisciplinary scientific, health care, and administrative professional workforce of more than 100 personnel.

Additionally, she is appointed as the centre’s health equity officer for review programmes to address the centre’s strategic priority to advance health equity, by engaging multiple stakeholders to advance knowledge and solutions across the total product life cycle. She was the director for the Division of Premarket and Labelling Compliance, in the Office of Compliance, in the CDRH- where she was in charge of enforcing premarket and postmarket requirements, as well as promotion, advertising and labelling requirements for medical devices.

EXTRAORDINARY JOURNEY

RDML Peat served as a branch chief (senior supervisory regulatory review officer) in the Division of Regulatory Project Management in the Centre for Tobacco Products (CTP), Office of Science from 2013 to 2016. Prior to joining the CTP, she served as a senior microbiology reviewer/lead (director regulatory review officer) in the CDRH, Office of In Vitro Diagnostics and Radiological Health, Division of Microbiology Devices.

She was assigned to the Office of New Drugs (OND) in the Centre for Drug Evaluation and Research, both in the OND Immediate Office and in the Division of Anti-Infective Drug Products, as a senior regulatory project officer. In both positions, she served as a centre regulatory expert, resource, and co-review team leader for products and policies related to all investigational and new drug applications.

Prior to joining FDA and the USPHS, RDML Peat served in the United States Army as a biomedical researcher. She has participated in multiple deployments, including those for COVID-19, hurricanes Irma, Maria, Sandy, Gustav, Katrina and Rita, etc.

RDML Peat chaired the Health Services Professional Advisory Committee (HSPAC) Mentoring Subcommittee (2010-2011). During her tenure as the HSPAC Mentoring Subcommittee chair, a new mentoring programme designed to support the career development of all health service officers in the USPHS was launched. It was revamped to include an online application process, a revised website, an updated mentoring handbook, the provision of mentoring resource materials, and the development of a new tracking and evaluation system.

RDML Peat has received numerous recognitions and awards for her outstanding achievements. They include: the Outstanding Service Medal, the Surgeon General’s Exemplary Service Medal, and the 2008 Joseph Garcia Jr. Award for extraordinary excellence, contributions to the USPHS, public health in general, and continuous leadership in multiple roles.

The daughter of a nurse and police officer was born and raised in Kingston and St Andrew and attended Alpha Prep School and St Hugh’s High School (up to GCE ‘A’ levels). She has come a long way to this latest achievement, and told The Gleaner, “At this moment, it all is quite surreal. I am humbled and honoured to be bestowed to the rank of admiral.”

The 1989 migrant to the US continued, “I also believe that my path is ordered and that God the creator made a way for me to be promoted to this rank. This was an extraordinary journey filled with hard work, dedication to duty to the American public, in support of our mission to protect, promote and advance public health. I hope to use this new platform to continue to serve the American public both nationally and internationally.”