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Carpenter studies policy administration – how government agencies, combined with social and economic actors, convert laws into policy outcomes in American politics. He also studies health regulation, especially pharmaceutical regulation by the Food and Drug Administration, and financial regulation, especially consumer financial regulation. He has served on two U.S. Institute of Medicines (IOM) committees, one for implementation of the 2009 tobacco law, the other for global strategies for combating counterfeit and substandard medicines. He also regularly consults (entirely pro bono) with government agencies – the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the FDA, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy – in the development of new institutions and policy frameworks.