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Staff Snapshot: Dr. Carrie L. Byington

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If you’ve been following UC’s response to coronavirus, there’s one name you’ve probably become quite familiar with: Dr. Carrie L. Byington, executive vice president and head of UC Health. Though she’s been at UC for less than six months, Dr. Byington has already proved to be an inspirational leader within the university and trusted partner with statewide officials. Her background in infectious diseases — which includes a UCSF fellowship — has made her a go-to resource for partner institutions and government organizations alike.

Originally from rural south Texas, Dr. Byington brings a deep commitment to some of the toughest issues in health care today, including increasing access to care — especially for vulnerable populations — and working to eliminate health disparities. She has been a clinician and educator her entire career, holding positions at Texas A&M University System, Texas A&M College of Medicine and the University of Utah. As such, she is a passionate supporter of the importance of public research universities in advancing public health and knowledge around health crises such as the pandemic.

One of Dr. Byington’s first experiences after completing medical school was with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Houston during the biggest measles outbreak in the U.S. Her research informed changes to CDC vaccination recommendations, which had an immediate impact on decreasing the rate of measles infections in the US. Seeing the effect of research on the lives of patients transformed her and led her to pursue a career as a physician-scientist. It was the start of her lifelong passion for improving health through research — one that continues to inform her work today.

Meet Dr. Byington

Name: Dr. Carrie L. Byington

Title: Executive Vice President, UC Health

Department/Unit: University of California Health 

Location: Office of the President, Oakland

When did you start working for UC? Oct. 31, 2019

In five words or less, what do you do for UC?  Improve the health of California.

Why do you love working for UC? I love being part of a values-driven health system that has a positive impact on so many people. Our health delivery systems provide high-quality care to our communities today, our educational programs prepare the health care workforce of tomorrow and our health sciences investigators are opening the doors to the future. The way we collaborate across programs and campuses is a model for the nation.

What’s something people don’t know about you? My husband and I are beekeepers. We got started almost 15 years ago to engage in a science hobby with our kids and to support bee colonies that were at risk across the country. My husband even became the city beekeeper for Salt Lake City, so we learned a lot about urban beekeeping. We had about 10 hives before we moved to Oakland. I’ll be setting up hives here once we get settled. You can learn a lot about leadership from bees — creatures that work together for the best interests of their community.

Who’s your dream dinner guest (living or dead) and why? Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell. She was the first American woman to receive a medical degree, and she devoted her career to empowering other women in medicine. She believed that medicine requires representation; that to fulfill our mission as doctors, we need to include every human being. 

What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received? Find a mentor — especially if you’re out of your element. And, if you can’t find a mentor, learn to be your own best mentor by knowing what you want, where you’re going and how to make informed decisions. I advise people that knowing your values is vital; you must make them tangible and remind yourself of them every day.

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