Brett Giroir, Ex-CEO of A&M Health Science Center, on Tap for HHS Post

Houston—Another Texan, and Aggie, could be joining President Trump’s administration.

Brett Giroir, the former CEO of the Texas A&M University Health Science Center and current president and CEO of Houston biotech ViraCyte, could become assistant secretary for health for the US Department of Health and Human Services. The White House announced last month the intent to nominate Giroir, who should be formally nominated soon. The position requires confirmation by the US Senate. (The other Aggie cabinet member is former Texas Gov. Rick Perry who is now US Secretary of Energy.)

Giroir said he is excited about the chance to return to public service. “This is a unique opportunity to improve public health in the country,” he says. “My whole career has been dedicated to medicine and public health.”

He has experience working with HHS. While at A&M, he helped to establish the university’s $286 million Center for Innovation in Advanced Development and Manufacturing, a public-private partnership with the federal agency designed to boost national emergency preparedness against emerging threats such as pandemic influenza, and biological, chemical, and radiological bio-threats.

Giroir received national attention in 2014 when Perry appointed him to lead the state’s Task Force on Infectious Disease Preparedness and Response—or as he was more colloquially known, the “Ebola Czar”—in response to the first US diagnosis in Dallas of the Ebola virus.

When A&M president Michael Young took the helm at the university in 2015, Giroir was essentially pushed out. Since then, Giroir has become involved in Houston’s biotech community, including becoming CEO of ViraCyte, a cell therapy company for infectious diseases using technology spun out of Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. He’s also on the board of Esperance, a Houston biotech developing treatments for a variety of cancers, and serves as a mentor to TMCx accelerator companies. (Giroir says that should he be confirmed for the HHS position, he would resign from those posts as well as make the required divestitures as required by the Office of Government Ethics.)

Joining the HHS would be a return to Washington for Giroir, who previously served as director of the defense science office at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, under former president George W. Bush.

The assistant secretary for health leads development of public health policy recommendations, and oversees 12 core public health offices—including the Office of the Surgeon General—and 11 advisory committees, according to the HHS website.

Giroir obtained his M.D. from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas and has a biology degree from Harvard University.

Angela Shah is the editor of Xconomy Texas. She can be reached at ashah@xconomy.com or (214) 793-5763. Follow @angelashah

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