Following an extensive national search, The Texas A&M University System Board of Regents has approved the appointment of Carrie L. Byington, M.D., to lead health education related efforts as Vice Chancellor for Health Services, Dean of the College of Medicine and Senior Vice President for the Health Science Center at Texas A&M University.

Byington is a national leader in pediatrics and infectious disease, having built a career of 21 years at the University of Utah Health Science Center.  She currently holds the HA and Edna Benning Presidential Professor of Pediatrics and, since 2012, has served as the Vice Dean for Academic Affairs and Faculty Development for the School of Medicine. In 2013, she also assumed the additional role of the Associate Vice President for Faculty and Academic Affairs for the Health Sciences campus, including, in addition to the School of Medicine, the School of Dentistry, the Colleges of Health, Nursing, and Pharmacy, and the Spencer S. Eccles Health Sciences Library.

“I continue to believe the next great opportunity for the Texas A&M System’s collective impact across Texas will be in the health arena,” said Chancellor John Sharp.  “We have made a number of strategic transitions over the last three years to better position our Health Science Center and health related degree programs. The hiring of Dr. Byington will elevate our efforts and signal our commitment to be among the very best.”

A renowned scholar, Byington is a respected physician with board certification and national recognition in both General Pediatrics and Pediatric Infectious Diseases. She was born in Bryan, Texas, is a 1985 graduate of Texas A&M University, achieving her Bachelor of Science in biology before receiving her Doctor of Medicine from the Baylor College of Medicine at the Texas Medical Center in Houston, both with honors.

“Dr. Byington is a leader in her field of pediatrics while also managing complex health affairs operations and mentoring investigators towards successful research careers during her tenure at the University of Utah,” said Michael K. Young, President of Texas A&M University. “Her appointment brings tremendous opportunities to make dramatic progress in our efforts to shape the future of medical education and health care delivery at home, nationally and internationally.”

In her current administrative roles, she directs the academic and development activities for nearly 2,000 faculty members. She serves on the University of Utah Health System Executive Committee, which has responsibility for the budget and strategic initiatives of the University of Utah Health System.

Dr. Byington is a federally funded investigator, with continuous support as principal or co-investigator totaling about $80 million since 1998. Her research spans the translational spectrum from basic laboratory science to health services and has focused primarily on bacterial and viral respiratory pathogens in children.

“Respiratory pathogens are the number one cause of death in children and our ability to treat these infections is dependent on accurate diagnostics,” said Dr. Byington.  Her scholarship led to her co-invention of the FilmArray, a novel diagnostic platform for the identification of infectious pathogens and antimicrobial resistance with BioFire Diagnostics of Salt Lake City, Utah, later acquired by bioMérieux. The FilmArray is used in hospitals in the US, Europe, and Asia and has changed the landscape for infectious diseases diagnostics and research.

Her research background in translational science led to work with others at the University of Utah to develop the Utah Center for Clinical and Translational Science. The Center has been a member of the NIH Clinical and Translational Science Award national consortium since 2008.

Earlier this year, Dr. Byington served as Chair of the Infectious Diseases Advisory Group to the US Olympic Committee and was tasked with protecting Team USA athletes and staff during 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janiero, Brazil. 

“Translating new discoveries to impact the lives of people and improve health care is the most important calling for those of us in medical education.” said Dr. Byington. “I’ve always known Texas A&M as a university committed to the people of Texas, but new initiatives such as Healthy South Texas, take that commitment even further. As I grew up in South Texas and it remains home to my extended family, I’m looking forward to advancing our impact in this region.”

Dr. Byington’s appointment will signal another first among the nation’s medical schools, as she will be the first Mexican American female to hold the position of dean and senior vice president for a US academic medical center.

Dr. Byington thanked the Board of Regents, Chancellor, President and Provost for the opportunity. “I believe that I have the right skills to transform the Health Science Center and College of Medicine and my confidence is bolstered by my faith in the culture of excellence that exists at Texas A&M. It’s an exciting time to join a comprehensive health science center that fosters opportunities for interprofessional education and team-based clinical care,” she added. “I am committed to educating and building the health care teams of the future at Texas A&M. I am grateful to be considered for this once in a lifetime opportunity and hope to contribute my skills to building a research-intensive and patient-centered enterprise that will serve the state of Texas and the nation.”

Her appointment included tenure on arrival and she is anticipated to begin her leadership role in January 2017.

Photo credit: University of Utah Health Sciences Center

— Holly Shive