Articles tagged as: Brett Giroir

November 18, 2014

Texas A&M: A Major Center For Coping With Ebola Problems, Policy and Procedures

Texas A&M University is emerging as a major resource in coping with the dreaded Ebola virus. It’s likely no other university is involved in addressing so many aspects of the devastating disease that has, according to the World Health Organization, already killed more than 5,100 people.

Texas A&M has the trained minds, the resources, the how-to and the can-do to be a major factor in stopping Ebola, officials note, and it’s readily and willingly sharing that expertise.

Faculty, staff and students at several colleges and other units of Texas A&M and agencies affiliated with it have rolled up their sleeves and are attacking the Ebola crisis.

Such efforts, officials emphasize, personify Texas A&M’s mission as a land-grant institution that focuses on teaching, research and service.

“Texas A&M has the trained minds and the resources to be a major factor in stopping Ebola, and we are readily and willingly sharing that expertise,” said John Sharp, chancellor of The Texas A&M University System. “Such efforts personify Texas A&M’s mission as a land-grant institution that focuses on teaching, research and service.”

The person in Texas selected to lead the fight is Brett Giroir, handpicked by Texas Gov. Rick Perry to assume the role of director of the newly created Texas Task Force on Infectious Disease Preparedness and Response, which will assess ways to respond to any pandemic disease, including Ebola.  Giroir, an M.D. and CEO of the Texas A&M Health Science Center, is heading up a team of experts in epidemiology and infectious disease, including three other Texas A&M representatives.

“We live in an interconnected world, where an outbreak anywhere is a risk everywhere,” Giroir explains.

“As a result, control of future potential disease outbreaks will present even greater challenges. We need to have clear, decisive and prospective management aimed not only at rapid response, but also long-term solutions. We need to be fully prepared for a worst-case scenario, no matter what form that may take.”

For more about Giroir and his team, go to http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=gov-perry-names-dr-brett-giroir-to-lead-texas-task-force-on-infectious-disease-preparedness-and-response.

What exactly is Ebola and what is known about it?  A useful question-and-answer fact sheet featuring Scott Lillibridge, M.D., an infectious disease expert and assistant dean at the Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Public Health, can be found at http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=fast-facts-what-you-should-know-about-the-ebola-outbreak.

Students at Texas A&M’s College of Architecture have designed portable Ebola treatment centers. The movable modules can be dismantled and stored at transportation hubs for quick assembly when needed and could be crucial in fighting Ebola at the site of infection.

“The current pandemic in western Africa underscores the need for these inexpensive, easily erected modular facilities where Ebola patients can be treated while isolated from the general public,” says George Mann, holder of the Skaggs Professorship in Health Facilities Design and director of the graduate architecture studio that undertook the project.

One student used an accordion-style design in which modules can be expanded for use and then compressed for transport of storage.  They are light enough to be moved via helicopter.

For more information, go to http://one.arch.tamu.edu/news/2014/9/22/portable-ebola-clinics/

With the high infection rates of Ebola, the question is being asked: could medical robots be used for certain treatment procedures?

Texas A&M’s Professor Robin Murphy, a specialist in rescue robotics and a professor of computer science and engineering, has been working on just such a concept.  Mobile robots have been used in bomb removal and as drivers in car tests, and using them in health care situations is a logical next step, Murphy believes.

“This is something we can do, but for some families, it is hard to accept that a loved one’s body is being handled by a machine.  So we have to be sensitive about these issues,” Murphy says.

Murphy has identified nine specific ways that robots can play a key role in Ebola treatments and procedures, such as disinfection, detection and contamination, waste handling, using mortuary robots to handle deceased patients and others.  Her work is drawing international media attention, and she and her group were involved in a meeting on the Texas A&M campus of scientists looking at various aspects of Ebola as part of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy to study Ebola.

For more about her work, go to http://engineering.tamu.edu/news/2014/10/30/texas-am-disaster-expert-identifies-nine-ways-robots-can-protect-ebola-workers.

The problem of what to do about Ebola wastewater and hospital waste is being looked at by Suresh D. Pillai, a Texas A&M AgriLife scientist and director of the National Center for Electron Beam Research.

Contagious hospital waste is usually treated with pressurized steam or is incinerated, while waste water from quarantine units is usually chemically disinfected and then disposed of normally.  But in similar fashion as a microwave works, eBeam units could be more effective, Pillai says.

“One of the beautiful aspects of electron-beam technology is that it uses commercial electricity to generate the electrons,” he explains.  “There is no need for radioactive isotopes or chemicals.”

For more about his work, go to http://bit.ly/sanatizewater.

Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service is part of the Texas Department of Emergency Management response team.  Health science professionals at the Family and Consumer Sciences Unit of AgriLife Extension are informing County Extension Agents in each of Texas’ 254 counties and using educational and appropriate information resources for a variety of programs involving Ebola.

The agency’s liaisons to the State Operation Center and Garland Disaster District Committee stay abreast of and stand ready if called upon to represent the agency’s resources.

For more about AgriLife’s efforts, go to http://TexasHelp.tamu.edu and http://texashelp.tamu.edu/004-natural/disease-and-epidemic.php#ebolavirus.

The Texas A&M Health Science Center’s Pandemic Influenza Vaccine Facility will be up and ready by 2017 and is built specifically to handle such contagious diseases as Ebola.  It will be able to distribute 50 million doses of medicine for such outbreaks.  For more about this project, go to https://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=protecting-our-nation-pandemic-influenza-vaccine-facility.

The College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences is studying the link between Ebola and animals and it recently joined in monitoring the first-ever U.S. case of a dog exposed to Ebola.

“The inseparable nature of human and animal health demands that the Ebola virus outbreak be approached holistically,” says Eleanor Green, dean of the college.

“We know that people are concerned about their animals; in fact, they will put themselves at risk for their animals. People should not be reluctant to report early signs of Ebola in order to protect their pets. They should feel secure that they will not be putting their pets at risk by self-reporting.”

For more about Ebola and pets, go to http://vetmed.tamu.edu/ebola-information.

For a happy-ending story about Bentley, the dog that was quarantined for 21 days after his owner contracted Ebola – and regarding Texas A&M veterinarians’ role in it – go to http://vetmed.tamu.edu/news/press-releases/bentley-the-dog-monitored-for-ebola-returns-home#.VFkB9Rb7hpQ.

Texas A&M College of Science and biology graduate Ketan Patel is helping to run a U.S. Naval Medical Research Center mobile lab that is speeding up Ebola diagnosis on the front lines of the global crisis.

It often takes from 3-5 days to have Ebola confirmed in blood samples, but Patel’s work is reportedly cutting that down to just 3-5 hours, which can be critical time for the patient and his or her family.

For more about the project, go to http://www.who.int/features/2014/liberia-mobile-ebola-lab/en.

For more about Gov. Perry’s remarks and response to the Ebola crisis, go to http://governor.state.tx.us/news/press-release/20263.

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Media contact: Keith Randall, News & Information Services, at (979) 845-4644 or keith-randall@tamu.edu

February 18, 2014

Giroir Named Health Science Center Exec. VP and CEO, Laine Named Texas A&M VP For Research

Dr. Brett P. Giroir was named executive vice president and CEO of the Texas A&M Health Science Center and Dr. Glen A. Laine was named vice president for research for Texas A&M University during a telephonic meeting of The Texas A&M University System Board of Regents Monday (Feb. 17) upon the recommendation of Texas A&M Interim President Mark A. Hussey.

Giroir and Laine had been serving in interim capacities in the positions to which they were formally appointed.

Brett Giroir2

Dr. Brett Giroir

Dr. Giroir is a professor in the College of Medicine and previously served as vice chancellor for strategic initiatives for The Texas A&M University System and principal investigator for the Texas A&M Center for Innovation in Advanced Development and Manufacturing, a public-private partnership with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Earlier in his career, he served as deputy director and, subsequently, director of the Defense Sciences Office of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), where he directed a research portfolio of approximately $450 million annually. He was named interim executive vice president and CEO of the Health Science Center in October 2013.

Dr. Glen Laine

Dr. Glen Laine

Dr. Laine is Regents Professor and head of veterinary physiology and pharmacology in Texas A&M’s College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, holds the Wiseman-Lewie-Worth Endowed Chair in Cardiology and is director of the Michael E. DeBakey Institute for Comparative Cardiovascular Science and Biomedical Devices. Since joining the Texas A&M faculty in 1991, he has taught at all levels, chaired the committees of nearly 50 doctoral and postdoctoral students and led a research portfolio totaling more than $25 million, including the Center for Cell and Organ Biotechnology grant, of which he is principal investigator. He has served as interim vice president for research since May 2013.

“At my request, Provost Karan Watson solicited input regarding the future of these key leadership positions from deans, senior faculty, and members of the executive committees of the University Distinguished Professors, the Council for Principal Investigators, and the Faculty Senate,” Dr. Hussey said. “The committee that Provost Watson assembled recommended to me last week that I proceed with requesting the removal of their interim titles.

“We are fortunate to have on our campus these two outstanding candidates who are willing to serve in this permanent capacity under my leadership as interim president. I believe it is important to move forward by giving these individuals the entire scope of authority and autonomy that comes with being in the permanent position.”

Hussey commended the regents for their action regarding the appointments, which he said “will allow us to continue and increase momentum on our academic front in the areas of recruitment, fundraising, and other important interactions with external stakeholders, including state and federal agencies, and public and private partners.”

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Media contact: Lane Stephenson, News & Information Services, at (979) 845-4662

September 12, 2013

Future Bright For Healthcare Professionals And Patients, Says New Health Science Center Interim Leader

Nurse and patient

Brett Giroir of Texas A&M's Health Science Center says that caring for patients is the most rewarding part of being a health care professional. (Photo: michaeljung/Shutterstock.com)

As the future of America’s healthcare system continues to be debated, Dr. Brett Giroir of Texas A&M University knows one thing for certain: those who seek a career in health care are called to duty and no matter what happens in Washington, the greatest rewards lie in caring for patients. Giroir brings this passion for patient care to the Texas A&M Health Science Center (TAMHSC) as its new interim executive vice president, effective Oct. 1.

“When I was a practicing pediatric critical care physician, I had to tell parents their child was going to die,” he recalls. “That’s something you must feel a calling to do. Healthcare professionals are passionate about their jobs; they are mission-driven and service-oriented. Saving lives or making the final days of someone’s life comfortable – rewards like that can’t be matched.”

The TAMHSC is training the healthcare professionals of the future and conducting innovative research that may forever change public health and medical care, says physician-scientist Giroir, a magna cum laude graduate of Harvard University who earned his M.D. at the UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. His career includes U.S. government positions as director of the Defense Sciences Office at DARPA and chair of the Chemical and Biological Defense Panel for the Threat Reduction Advisory Committee for the U.S. Department of Defense.

“The days of the family physician practicing in an isolated office equipped only with a stethoscope have gone away,” he contends. “Technology and the sharing of information are bringing patient care to a whole new level. Today’s physicians, nurses, dentists and pharmacists make maximum use of technology, and are highly connected to information sources and to other healthcare professionals.”

Modern diagnostics have advanced the discovery of disease, says Giroir, and research, especially in genomics, is leading to a whole new generation of personalized medicines and vaccines. These innovations will revolutionize the prevention and treatment of disease.

“Personalized medicine can be described as health care that is customized for each person based on his or her unique genetic makeup and factors such as environment,” notes Giroir, who practiced pediatric medicine at Children’s Medical Center Dallas and Parkland Memorial Hospital, and pediatric critical care at UT Southwestern Medical Center. He holds professor appointments within three Texas A&M colleges and most recently served as vice chancellor for strategic initiatives at The Texas A&M University System.

Brett Giroir2

Dr. Brett Giroir

Much of Giroir’s own work has focused on infectious diseases and as vice chancellor, he successfully led the effort to create Texas A&M’s Center for Innovation in Advanced Development and Manufacturing (CIADM), one of three such centers in the U.S., founded on a $285.6 million public-private partnership with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The CIADM is designed to enhance the nation’s emergency preparedness against emerging infectious diseases, including pandemic influenza, and chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear threats.

Texas A&M System Chancellor John Sharp this week announced that the administration of CIADM will transfer to the TAMHSC and Giroir says it’s a necessary move. “The center started at the System level; we needed to have heavy administrative support and the backing of the chancellor. Now that we’re a year in, we’re moving to the next phase where the focus more appropriately aligns with an academic institution – specifically the university’s health-related institution.”

TAMHSC’s other big move this year was its addition as a unit within the university, a merger that serves to facilitate even more interdisciplinary collaborations in support of the mission to provide cutting-edge health education, outreach and research through campuses across the state of Texas. The five TAMHSC colleges are the Texas A&M University Baylor College of Dentistry, the College of Medicine, the College of Nursing, the Irma Lerma Rangel College of Pharmacy and the School of Rural Public Health. Other entities include the Institute of Biosciences and Technology and the Coastal Bend Health Education Center.

“We are leveraging our position within the university to redefine and recreate what it means to be a clinician,” notes Giroir. “Texas A&M Health Science Center is poised to become an international leader that trains individuals to be lifelong clinical learners.”

This training combined with a dedication to research are the driving forces behind Giroir’s vision for the future of the TAMHSC. “We’ll become a major force in healthcare research across the board within the next five years,” he predicts.

In addition to assuming his role of TAMHSC interim executive vice president, Giroir is scheduled to be nominated by Chancellor Sharp to become the interim CEO for the Health Science Center at the next meeting of The Texas A&M University System Board of Regents.

Giroir says he’s excited about his return to health education. “The opportunities for making a global impact in community and public health are at the Health Science Center, particularly following the merger. I feel invigorated – I’ve found my voice again,” he declares. “There’s nothing that affects me more personally than patient contact and contact with students that will care for patients. I’ve begun spending time with the tremendous faculty at TAMHSC and I’ve felt their inspiration. I had the revelation that I needed to move closer to the patients and providers, and build the relationships that are critical for the next century of health care.”

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About Research at Texas A&M University: As one of the world’s leading research institutions, Texas A&M is in the vanguard in making significant contributions to the storehouse of knowledge, including that of science and technology. Research conducted at Texas A&M represents total annual expenditures of more than $776 million. That research creates new knowledge that provides basic, fundamental and applied contributions resulting in many cases in economic benefits to the state, nation and world.

Media contact: Lesley Henton, Division of Marketing & Communications at Texas A&M University; 979-845-5591, lshenton@tamu.edu

September 9, 2013

Giroir Named Interim Executive Vice President For Texas A&M Health Science Center

Brett P. Giroir, M.D., will assume the role of Interim Executive Vice President for the Texas A&M Health Science Center, effective Oct. 1, 2013, and will be nominated by Chancellor Sharp to become the Interim CEO for the Health Science Center at the next regularly scheduled meeting of the Texas A&M University System Board of Regents.

Brett P. Giroir

Brett P. Giroir

“Dr. Giroir brings a wealth of experience that spans health care, biomedical sciences and academia, which ideally positions him to serve as a visionary leader for our health science center,” said R. Bowen Loftin, Ph.D., president of Texas A&M University. “Since its establishment in 1999, Texas A&M Health Science Center has matured into a statewide, comprehensive health-related institution that, with Dr. Giroir at the helm, is set to enter its next great chapter.”

Giroir, an internationally renowned physician-scientist whose work has focused on life-threatening infectious diseases, joined the A&M System in 2008, most recently serving as vice chancellor for strategic initiatives. In that role, Giroir led the Texas A&M team that garnered the largest and most highly funded national award of a Center for Innovation in Advanced Development and Manufacturing (CIADM), with a potential contract value of approximately $3 billion over a 25-year span. One of only three such centers across the United States, the CIADM is a public-private partnership with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services designed to enhance the nation’s emergency preparedness against emerging infectious diseases and other threats.

“It has been an honor and privilege to serve the A&M System for the past five years. As I embark on this new opportunity with the health science center, I look forward to focusing more intensely on my passion for improving patient care and public health,” Giroir said. “Texas A&M Health Science Center is poised to become an international leader in patient-centered health care and medical research, and I am committed to serving the faculty, students and staff to attain our shared vision for our institution.”

Dr. Giroir currently holds professor appointments at the Health Science Center College of Medicine and the Dwight Look College of Engineering, and an adjunct professor appointment at the Bush School of Government and Public Service. He is a former tenured professor, endowed chair and associate dean at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.  His U.S. government positions include service as the director of the Defense Sciences Office at DARPA, and chair of the Chemical and Biological Defense Panel for the Threat Reduction Advisory Committee for the U.S. Department of Defense. He is a magna cum laude graduate of Harvard University and an Alpha Omega Alpha graduate of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.

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Texas A&M Health Science Center is transforming health through innovative research and education in biomedical sciences, dentistry, medicine, nursing, pharmacy and public health. A unit of Texas A&M University, the health science center serves the state through campuses in Bryan-College Station, Dallas, Temple, Houston, Round Rock, Kingsville, Corpus Christi and McAllen.

Media contact: Debbie Field at (512) 341-4935

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