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Brett Giroir
16th United States Assistant Secretary for Health
Assumed office
February 15, 2018
President Donald Trump
Preceded by Howard Koh
Acting Commissioner of Food and Drugs

In office
November 6, 2019[1] – December 17, 2019
President Donald Trump
Preceded by Norman Sharpless (acting)
Succeeded by Stephen Hahn
Personal details
Born November 4, 1960(1960-11-04) (age 62)
Marrero, Louisiana, U.S.
Military service
Allegiance  United States
Service/branch USPHS Commissioned Corps
Years of service 2018–present
Rank US-O10 insignia.svg Admiral
Awards Secretary of Defense Medal for Outstanding Public Service

Brett P. Giroir (born November 4, 1960) is an American pediatrician and a four-star admiral in the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, who currently serves as the Assistant Secretary for Health under the Trump administration. He concurrently serves as the Secretary's principal public health and science adviser, senior adviser for HRSA, CDC, and SAMHSA and chief opioid policy adviser. He also served as the Acting Commissioner of Food and Drugs in November and December 2019, while Stephen Hahn's nomination was pending in the Senate.[2] Giroir has also been nominated by the President to serve the additional role of the representative of the United States on the executive board of the World Health Organization.[3][4] The nomination was returned to the President on January 3, 2020 without action.[4]

Giroir has led major initiatives for academic institutions, global corporations, and the U.S. Departments of Defense, Health and Human Services, and Veterans Affairs. He served as president and CEO of ViraCyte, LLC, a clinical stage biopharmaceutical company focused on discovering and developing cellular immunotherapies for severe infections and as senior fellow at the Texas Medical Center Health Policy Institute and strategic advisor for the Texas Medical Center Innovation Institute (TMCx). He was a member of the Texas Task Force for Infectious Disease Preparedness and Response (charted initially by the governor to respond to Texas Ebola cases), adjunct professor of pediatrics, tropical medicine, and medical ethics and health policy at the Baylor College of Medicine.

Giroir chaired the independent Blue Ribbon Panel for the Veterans Choice and Accountability Act of 2014, whose comprehensive assessment and recommendations to reform the Veterans Administration Health System were delivered to Congress and Secretary Robert McDonald on September 1, 2015. He subsequently testified to the full House Committee on Veterans Affairs on October 7, 2015, and communicated priorities for VA reform in the New England Journal of Medicine.[5]

Giroir served as the deputy director, and then a director, of DARPA's Defense Science Office from 2004 to 2008, vice chancellor for the Texas A&M University System from 2008 to 2013, and as the chief executive officer of the Texas A&M Health Science Center from 2013 to 2015. He is widely known for leading novel biomedical initiatives within Texas culminating in the 2012 announcement of a public private partnership with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service Biomedical Research and Development Authority to accelerate development and manufacturing of vaccines and therapeutics for pandemic influenza and emerging infectious diseases. This partnership had a $3 billion contract value over 25 years, with an estimated $41 billion in economic impact to Texas.

Education and career


Giroir received his A.B. degree in biology from Harvard University, magna cum laude, in 1982. He was the first college graduate in his family. Giroir later earned his M.D. from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in 1986, Alpha Omega Alpha, and conducted his residency (1986–1989), chief residency (1989–1990) and fellowship (1990–1991) in pediatrics at the medical center, specifically at Children's Medical Center (Dallas) and Parkland Memorial Hospital. Giroir received his post-doctoral training at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and supported by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute under the mentorship of Dr. Bruce Beutler, 2011 Nobel Laureate in Physiology or Medicine.

UT Southwestern Medical Center

Following his fellowship, Giroir served on the faculty at UT Southwestern (1993–2004), earning the rank of tenured professor. He was the inaugural holder of the Associates First Capital Corporation Distinguished Chair in Pediatrics, and the Kathryne and Gene Bishop Distinguished Chair in Pediatric Care. His administrative positions included director of the Division of Pediatric Critical Care Medicine, and director of the pediatric intensive care units at Children's Medical Center and Parkland Memorial Hospital. In 2000, Giroir was named the associate dean for Clinical Affairs at UT Southwestern, while taking on the role as the inaugural chief medical officer at Children's Medical Center (Dallas). Giroir led a medical staff of over 750 physicians, and expanded the services of the hospital to better serve the region's burgeoning pediatric population. His research focused on severe life-threatening infectious diseases, including meningococcal disease ("the college meningitis"). Giroir's research was featured on a PBS NOVA entitled "Killer Disease on Campus"[6] which originally aired in 2002. Giroir has published over 85 academic articles, chapters and books on a variety of topics including host-pathogen interactions and novel therapies for life-threatening infectious diseases.

Governmental appointments

Brett Giroir in 2015

Defense Sciences Research Council

Due to his work on life-threatening infectious diseases, and while continuing to serve full-time at UT Southwestern, Giroir accepted membership on the Defense Sciences Research Council (DSRC, 1999–2004), an agile academic and technical assessment council charged with assisting DARPA (The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) in developing novel, world-changing R&D initiatives. Giroir co-chaired or participated in studies related to biological weapons decontamination and universal medial countermeasures to biological threats during his appointment with the DSRC.

Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency

In 2004, Giroir accepted a full-time position at DARPA as deputy director of the Defense Sciences Offices (DSO), and then as its director from 2007 to 2008. Among the most noted programs begun during this time were a comprehensive biodefense thrust known as Accelerating Critical Therapeutics and numerous programs in fundamental mathematics, engineering, and human performance. During Giroir's tenure, the Defense Sciences Office developed the following biodefense programs and other programs related to biosecurity with the goal of developing new technologies and approaches to be transitioned for translation by other agencies:

  • Unconventional pathogen countermeasures to develop new approaches to vaccines and treatments for emerging diseases and agents of bioterrorism
  • Rapid vaccine assessment to develop an artificial immune system to rapidly test vaccines and avoid lengthy, poorly predictive preclinical trials
  • Predicting health and disease to develop pre-symptomatic diagnostics for infectious diseases
  • Radiation biodosimetry to immediately determine radiation exposure
  • Peak soldier performance to explore natural and nutritional mechanisms to maintain warfighter performance, including improving resistance to infectious disease
  • Surviving blood loss to extend the "golden hour" of trauma to the "golden six hours" through the creation of new therapies that can temporarily reduce oxygen demand
  • Revolutionizing prosthetics to develop the first neurally controlled fully functional human arm and hand

Defense Sciences Study Group

Giroir was also selected as a member of the Defense Sciences Study Group,[7] a two-year intensive program to develop emerging leaders in science and technology. He was a member of the external advisory board, NASA National Center for Space Biological Technologies (2003–2007), and as the chair on the Chemical and Biological Defense Panel (2009–2010) for the Threat Reduction Advisory Committee (TRAC).

Texas Task Force on Infectious Disease Preparedness and Response

On October 6, 2014, Governor Rick Perry announced the creation of the Texas Task Force on Infectious Disease Preparedness and Response to assess and enhance the state's existing capabilities to prepare for and respond to pandemic disease such as the Ebola virus. The Governor named Giroir as director of the task force to lead a team of experts in epidemiology and infectious disease.[8]

Assistant Secretary for Health

Admiral Girior, as Assistant Secretary for Health, shakes hands with President Donald Trump in 2019

Giroir received his commission and appointment to the rank of admiral, in the regular corps, when he assumed office as assistant secretary on February 15, 2018. He was appointed by the Secretary to the additional role as mental health senior adviser on March 29, 2018.[9]

On November 15, 2018, President Donald Trump nominated Giroir for appointment to serve the additional role as Representative of the United States on the executive board of the World Health Organization.[3] His nomination was sent to the Senate the same day.[10] His nomination was returned to the President on January 3, 2019, with no action.[10] The President renominated him on January 16, 2019.[4]

Acting Commissioner of Food and Drugs

On November 1, 2019, HHS Secretary Alex Azar announced that Giroir would serve as Acting Commissioner of Food and Drugs until Stephen Hahn, whose nomination for the same position was announced on the same day, was confirmed by the U.S. Senate.[11][12][13]

Other appointments

Giroir was appointed by USD-ATL to serve on the Threat Reduction Advisory Committee (TRAC) Chemical and Biological Defense Panel from 2008 to 2010, and was member of the Department of Defense Chief Scientist Panel for Biodefense from 2004 to 2008.

He appeared before the House Armed Services Committee Subcommittee on Intelligence, Emerging Threats and Capabilities hearing on Biodefense: Worldwide Threats and Countermeasure Efforts for the Department of Defense in October 2013.[14]

Texas A&M University System

Giroir served as vice chancellor for Research (2008–2011), and vice chancellor for strategic initiatives (2011–2013) and executive vice president and CEO of the Texas A&M Health Science Center (2013–2015). He held professor appointments in the Texas A&M College of Medicine and the Dwight Look College of Engineering, and an adjunct professor appointment at The Bush School of Government and Public Service. Giroir's major focus was leading the development of the biotechnology initiatives within the Texas A&M University System and the Biocorridor in Brazos County.[15] In this regard, Giroir was the lead investigator and program director for the design, development, and implementation of the National Center for Therapeutics Manufacturing (NCTM), a biopharmaceutical research and development program at Texas A&M University.[16] Giroir was also the Co-Investigator on a Department of Defense sponsored project within the Blue Angel Program to develop and successfully implement the world's most capable plant-made vaccine and therapeutic manufacturing program.[citation needed]

In March 2013, GlaxoSmithKline and The Texas A&M University System announced U.S. Department of Health and Human Services approval of the establishment of an influenza-vaccine manufacturing facility as the anchor of the Center for Innovation in Advanced Development and Manufacturing (CIADM) in Bryan-College Station, Texas. The announcement was hosted by Governor Rick Perry where he announced that the projected economic impact of this award to the State of Texas was estimated at $41 billion and included nearly 7,000 long term jobs.[17][18]

Giroir led the transition of this center to the Texas A&M Health Science Center upon his appointment as executive vice president and CEO of the Health Science Center, and recruited Gerald Parker (then Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Chemical and Biological Defense) as the new principal investigator for the center.[citation needed]

During Giroir's two years at the Health Science Center, research funding increased by 25% and federal funding by 65%. He led the development of a new strategic plan, formed a long-term partnership with Houston Methodist Hospital, and outlined new expansion plans at the Texas Medical Center.[citation needed]

Health Science and Biosecurity Partners, LLC

After resigning from Texas A&M, Giroir founded Health Science and Biosecurity Partners, a consulting firm focused on life science innovation, strategy and investments. The firm serves a diverse portfolio of clients including academia, global corporations, the Federal Government, and life science ventures.

Other appointments

Giroir served on the scientific advisory boards of the Cancer Moonshots Program at MD Anderson Cancer Center, the A. Alfred Taubman Medical Research Institute at the University of Michigan, the Institute for Patient Safety at the University of North Texas Health Science Center, and was a member of the board of directors of Esperance Pharmaceuticals and BioHouston. He served on the board of managers for Kalon Biotherapeutics and NASA's National Space Biomedical Research Institute, the scientific advisory board of the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University and was a member of the Texas Medical Center strategic planning steering committee.[citation needed]

He has appeared in the media, including CNBC, CNN, Reuters, The New York Times, USA Today and BBC World Service Radio.[citation needed]


Office of HHS ID Badge.png Badge of the Office of the Secretary of Health and Human Services
USPHSCC Officer-in-Charge Badge.png Officer-in-Charge Badge
PHSCC FMRB.png Field Medical Readiness Badge (FMRB)
US DoD Outstanding Public Service Award BAR.svg Secretary of Defense Medal for Outstanding Public Service
USPHS Global Health Campaign Medal ribbon.png Public Health Service Global Health Campaign Medal
Public Health Service Regular Corps Ribbon.png Public Health Service Regular Corps Ribbon
USPHS Commissioned Corps Training Ribbon.png Commissioned Corps Training Ribbon
  • Texas A&M University System Award for Innovation
  • Alpha Omega Alpha, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center
  • American Heart Association, Lyndon Baines Johnson Research Award
  • Society for Pediatric Research
  • Dallas Business Journal, Health Care Hero Award
  • Society of Critical Care Medicine, "SCCM Annual Scientific Award"
  • Society of Critical Care Medicine, "Presidential Citation"
  • Child Magazine, "Ten pediatricians who make a difference"
  • National High School Debate Champion


  1. ADM Brett P. Giroir, M.D.
  2. "President Donald J. Trump Announces Intent to Nominate Personnel to Key Administration Posts". The White House. April 21, 2017. Retrieved 23 January 2018. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 Ten Nominations and One Withdraw Sent to the Senate
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 PN125 — Brett P. Giroir — Department of State
  5. Reforming the Veterans Health Administration — Beyond Palliation of Symptoms, Brett P. Giroir, M.D., and Gail R. Wilensky, Ph.D. N Engl J Med 2015; 373:1693–1695 October 29, 201 5DOI: 10.1056/NEJMp1511438)
  6. NOVA Killer Disease on Campus
  7. Defense Sciences Study Group Archived 2012-07-16 at the Wayback Machine.
  8. "Gov. Perry Names Dr. Brett Giroir to Lead Texas Task Force on Infectious Disease Preparedness and Response". 
  9. Secretary Azar Announces Appointments to Advance Department Priorities
  10. 10.0 10.1 PN2647 — Brett P. Giroir — Department of State
  11. Burton, Thomas M.; Restuccia, Andrew (November 1, 2019). "Trump Will Tap Texas Doctor to Lead FDA". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved November 4, 2019. 
  12. McGinley, Laurie (November 1, 2019). "Trump announces plan to nominate Texas cancer doctor to run FDA". The Washington Post. Retrieved November 4, 2019. 
  13. Thomas, Katie (November 1, 2019). "Trump to Nominate Stephen Hahn, Cancer Researcher, to Head F.D.A.". The New York Times. Retrieved November 4, 2019. 
  14. "House Armed Services Committee Subcommittee on Intelligence, Emerging Threats and Capabilities hearing on Biodefense: Worldwide Threats and Countermeasure Efforts for the Department of Defense"
  15. "Biotechnology is new breed of business at Texas A&M". 
  16. National Academy of Engineering: 21st Century Manufacturing and Design Forum
  17. dead link Office of Governor – Gov. Perry Announces Major Biopharmaceutical Partnership Archived 2013-06-15 at the Wayback Machine.
  18. Houston Chronicle, Community Report, Tuesday, March 26, 2013 "Governor announces biopharmaceutical partnership with GlaxoSmithKline Vaccines"

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Howard Koh
Assistant Secretary for Health

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