Friday, December 16, 2011
Chapter 11: FDA Years and Maryland-1990-2002
Dave and Macrine in front of their Colesville, MD residence on their way to the Grand Ball of the Philippine-American Foundation of Charities,1999
This is a continuation of the series of my life experiences here in US starting in 1960 when Macrine and I lived in Chicago, Illinois, while I was pursuing graduate studies at the University of Illinois.
By 1990, our four children had all completed their Bachelor degrees. Our oldest son(Dodie) had graduated from UC Davis law school and married a classmate. Our oldest daughter(Dinah) also has finished her Bachelors degree and also has married a former classmate in high school who had also finished his Bachelor degree. Our two younger children(David E and Ditas M) were pursuing graduate studies. Our younger son was pursuing a master degree at Carnegie Mellon University and our youngest daughter was also studying for her Master's degree at University of Southern California after graduating from UC, Berkeley with honors.
When I received a job offer from FDA, I accepted the position even though I will be receiving about $10K less in salary. We really do not need a high income at the stage of our life since our four children had already finished their bachelors degrees. Our two youngest children have scholarship money for their graduate degrees. In addition, I have learned a lesson, ( after working for four employers in the private industry) that if you want job stability and security, worked for the Federal Government.
So with high hopes and a sense of adventure, Macrine and I moved to the Washington, D.C area in the Fall of 1990. Our moving expenses were all paid by the Federal Government. We settled in our newly purchased home in Colesville, MD without touching any of our household goods. Both the packing and unpacking of our goods were paid by the government.
The Parklawn Building, FDA, Center of Drugs, Rockville, MD. This was the location of my first office. The building is a scene of numerous demonstrations against FDA during my first five years in this office. Photo from caretolive.com
I started as a Review Chemist in the Office of new Drug Chemistry, Division of Anti-Infective Drug Products. After three years( 1993), I was promoted to Expert GS-14 with expertise in anti-malarial, anti-parasitic and systemic anti-fungal drug products. My promotion was published in the Philippines News dated March 31-April 6, 1993. It was written by Ernesto C. Parial, NY/NJ Bureau Editor. An excerpt of the article reads:
KATAGUE VOTED BY FDA UNIT TO GS-14
Colesville, MD- Dr David B Katague has been voted by the FDA Expert Regulatory Scientist Peer Review for promotion to GS-14.
Katague's expertise is anti-malaria, anti-parasitic and topical anti-fungal drug products. The promotion is a high honor, for out of more that 90 review chemists at the Center of Drug and Evaluation Research, only seven review chemists have passed the screening and approval of the Peer Review Committee, to the GS-14 status.
Dr Katague has served as a Review Chemist at FDA for almost three years. He has also more than 20 years of academic and industrial experience in the field of pesticide research and regulations. Prior to joining FDA, Dr. Katague worked as a research chemist for Stauffer Chemicals and Chevron Company at Richmond, California for several years. He and his family have been active with the Filipino-American Community from 1974 to 1990 in the San Francisco Bay Area. Dr. Katague was president of the University of the Philippines Alumni Association, Berkeley Chapter, 1988-1990.
At present, Dr. Katague and his wife, the former Macrine Nieva Jambalos of Boac, Marinduque reside in Colesville, MD ( a suburb of Washington, DC). The Katagues have four children, all professionals, residing in the East Bay.
Dr. Katague was born in Iloilo City, Philippines and was naturalized US citizen in 1972. He obtained his B.S. in Chemistry degree from the University of the Philppines and M.S. And Ph.D. degrees in Pharmaceutical Chemistry from the University of Illinois, Chicago.
In 1997, I was again promoted to Chemistry Team Leader, supervising the work of six reviewers ( five with doctorate degrees). As far as I know, I was the first Filipino-American who has achieved this position in FDA. As team leader, I was responsible for prioritizing, assigning, and assuring the technical accuracy of all chemistry, manufacturing and control issues for all new drug applications submitted to the Division of Anti-Infective Drug Products. As team leader, I also give advice, instruct and promote high morale and teamwork in my group. In 1998, I won the Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Award. The citation reads, “For outstanding accomplishments in fostering the objectives of the EEO Program by hiring minorities and encouraging their professional growth while providing excellent leadership.”
I have received numerous certificates of appreciation, awards in leadership and communications, commendation for teamwork and excellence in the accomplishment of the FDA mission. I have also received several letters of appreciation from private industry for my review work.
In 1995, I was elected to the United States Pharmacopeia, (USP), Committee of Revision(CR), Standards Division. As an elected member, I was responsible for establishing standards of identity, safety, quality, purity of drug substances and drug products as well as in-vitro and diagnostics products, dietary supplements and related articles used in health care. Election to this body is a very selected process. It is held every five years. In 1995, there were more than 700 scientists nation-wide from academia, government, and industry who volunteered to serve. USP narrowed it down to 256 final nominees. Of the 256, only 128 were elected. Election to the USP Committee of Revision confirms that the person is both the national and international expert in the field of election. In my case, it was in the field of antibiotics, natural products and botanicals.
The University of the Philippines Alumni Newsletter congratulated me with this statement, “ We join with your colleagues and your family in congratulating you for this singular honor, which brings prestige to the Philippines as well”. In March, 2000 I was reelected for another 5 year term.
My career in FDA would not be complete if I do not mentioned the terrorist bombing of the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. I remember clearly what I was doing and how I felt afterward. That morning in September 11, 2001, The office of New Drug Chemistry had a joint meeting with representatives of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association (PHARMA) at the Hilton Hotel in Gaithersburg, MD. At about 9:20AM, we received an announcement that the meeting is canceled and we can go home, since the World Trade Center in New York was burning. All of the attendees went to the hotel lobby and the TV was announcing the news. I felt sick, depressed but helpless to see the burning WTC building((see photo above).Later, I learned that the Pentagon in Washington DC was also bombed and another plane crashed in the field somewhere in Southern Pennsylvania. Later I also found out that this United Airline plane was intended for the White House. Had it not been for the courageous heroics of several passengers, the White House would have suffered the same fate as the WTC and the Pentagon.
The most heinous crime of the century produced thousands of burnt victims. Two drugs in my Division, Sulfamylon and Silvadene, approved for the treatment of burns were out of supply. A chemistry manufacturing supplement has to be approved to manufacture more of these ointments in a new facility. This required a review by the chemist, an inspection of the facility by a field inspector, my approval as the chemistry team leader plus the paper work by the project manager. The drugs are needed immediately, so we have to do an expedited review of the manufacturing supplement. It took us only 12 hours to approve the new facility and the review of the chemistry, manufacturing and control submission. This review normally will take at least one month to three months depending on the availability of the field inspector and the schedule of the review chemist.
In December, 2001, the four members of my review team received a special cash award and recognition award from FDA management for our work on expediting review of two drugs, Sulfamylon and Silvadene.. Of my more than a dozen awards I had, this one is the most appreciated. I felt that I have done my job as a public servant and had helped the victims of the terrorist attack in a timely manner. The photo above, the first picture I saw on television the morning of September 11, 2001, I will never forget as long as I live.
In January, 2002 I received another award for my work on Doxycycline, an antibiotic needed to treat anthrax victims due to bio terrorism activities from unknown terrorists.
Letters sent to Tom Brokaw of NBC and others containing anthrax spores as part of bio terrorism activities in 2002-photo from pbs.org
Macrine and I were also actively involved with Filipino-American community in the tri-state area of Maryland, Virginia and Washington, DC. We were also active with the Marinduquenos of the Capital Area (MACA). Some of MACA's projects were giving scholarships to needy students in PI. We also collaborated with the humanitarian projects of “ Feed the Hungry, Inc”in Marinduque. In 1998, we participated in the medical mission to Marinduque. We donated 100 used eyeglasses, medical supplies and equipments to the local hospital. In May, 2001 we again participated in the medical mission sponsored by Marinduque International,Inc.. I helped in the distribution of drugs and served as acting treasurer during the mission week, while Macrine was Executive Director of the organization.
Macrine short biography was published in MI, Inc Newsletter when she was elected President in 2003 as follows. "Macrine was born in Boac and a product of the Immaculate Conception Academy High School. She obtained her Bachelor in Business Administration degree in 1957 from the University of Santo Tomas. Two month after graduation she married her college sweetheart, David Katague from Iloilo, who was then teaching chemistry at UP Diliman. They immigrated to the US in 1960.
Macrine stayed home for 18 years raising her four children but decided to go back to nursing school in California. In 1979, she received her Bachelor of Science degree from Holy Name College in Oakland, CA. as well as a Certificate in Public Health Nursing specializing with Spanish speaking patients.
In 1990, Macrine and David moved to Maryland where she worked for nine years as Quality Improvement Nurse for several home health organizations in the Washington, DC area. It was then, when she joined the Marinduqueno Association of the Capital Area (MACA) and became an active member of the association. She retired in 1998 and got involved with the Filipino-American organizations in the DC metropolitan area".
In June, 1999, Macrine was elected overall chairperson of the Festival Committee that was in charge of the celebration of Philippines Independence for the whole month of June. An article was published by the Manila Mail, dated June 15, 1999. An excerpt of the news article written by Bing C. Branigin reads:
RP TAKES CENTER STAGE-45 GROUPS JOIN PARADE IN D.C.
“A big crowd watched the Philippines took center stage when Filipino-Americans stage a colorful parade, fair and cultural show along historic Pennsylvania Avenue on June 6.
Filipino Americans display their pride in their culture and heritage to mark the 101st anniversary of independence from Spain and more than a century of Philippines- American relations.
More than 45 Filipino- American organizations participated in the parade and whole day fair and cultural shows. They are groups from Washington, D.C., Maryland, Northern Virginia, South Carolina and the 40 strong Ati-atihan group from Virginia Beach.
The Marinduquenos who are this year hosts, showed their Moriones, clad in colorful costumes and mask.
Macrine Katague, Philippine Festival chairperson, said she was really impressed by the number of groups who participated. For the last six months, the Philippine Committee had been meeting regularly to make this year's event better.
A group of twenty food vendors sold favorite Philippine dishes, like lechon, pancit etc...For drinks, there was San Miguel beer, sago at gulaman, coconut juice and halo-halo. There were also twenty tents filled with dry goods, like T-shirts, jewelry, gift items, travel agencies and phone cards. One of the highlights of the fair was on-the-spot painting contest for the kids. The Philippine Embassy displayed stamp collection, fabrics and handicraft from the Philippines
Ambassador and Mrs Raul Rabe, patiently stayed at the Fair from 9:00AM to 6:00PM, enjoying all the activities. Rabe will end his term the end of this month. He will be replaced by Ambassador Ernesto Maceda.
Mr. Rabe told Manila Mail “ This is a great thing that we are celebrating our independence here in Pennsylvania Avenue. I noticed that every year we are getting better and bigger,. Hopefully we will keep the momentum going”..
To show their support to their “kababayans”, Marinduquenos from New Jersey came to town. Al Molato who represented the Eastern Seaboard Marinduqueno said, “ This is fantastic, imagine our small island is so small and taking a big role in the capital to host a big endeavor like this. I would like to salute my co-marinduquenos and Macrine Katague the chairperson, for a wonderful job.”
Our life in Maryland would not be complete, if I do not write about our time exchange vacation activities through Interval International. In 1994, we purchased a time share at Lake Tahoe, Nevada at the 5 star resort, "The Ridge". Since then we have exchanged one week of vacation time at Cancun, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Aruba, Malaga Spain, Morocco, Kawaii, Maui, Hawaii and our favorite city, Las Vegas Nevada. We have also been to Rome, Italy and London, England. We have been Ontario and Vancouver, Canada and almost all the big cities in the US. We also had taken a cruise at the Bahamas. Macrine had also visited Turquiose Island. Today, we have a hard time traveling and our dreams of going to the Holy Land will now be on hold. It is sad to say that we have traveled more places outside the Philippines than in the Philippines except in Boracay, Iloilo, Tagaytay and Baguio. Macrine had been to Cebu and I had been to Naga to see Mt. Mayon. We hope we can visit Davao and the Ilocos Region, but at present traveling in the Philippines is quite inconvenient if not dangerous specially in Southern Mindanao.
In July, 1998 I received an outstanding Senior-Citizen Award in Chemistry, Science and Research. I was awarded a medal and plaque. The award was presented by Philippine Centennial Committee of the Philippine American Foundation of Charities.
Prior to my retirement on October, 31, 2002, I was nominated by The Philippine Embassy for the Presidential Award, for Filipino Individuals Overseas,called PAMANA NG PILIPINO Award in Chemistry..
My twelve years in FDA was the happiest and most productive years of my professional life. Our involvement with the Filipino-American community will be memories that we will never forget. The next entry to this blog will be life after retirement.