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Aitken named chair of Department of Pediatrics

Mary Aitken, MD, MPH
Mary Aitken, MD, MPH

Following a national search, Dean Barbara J. Stoll, MD, of McGovern Medical School at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) has named Mary Aitken, MD, MPH, chair of the Department of Pediatrics, effective Oct. 1, 2019. She also is the incoming physician-in-chief of Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital.

Aitken joins McGovern Medical School from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS), where she was professor of pediatrics and interim president of the Arkansas Children’s Research Institute. She also served as vice chair for research for the UAMS Department of Pediatrics and interim section chief of General Pediatrics as well as director of the Injury Prevention Center at Arkansas Children’s Hospital.

Aitken is a graduate of the University of North Carolina School of Medicine and completed a pediatrics residency at Johns Hopkins Hospital. She completed a master’s degree in public health with a concentration in epidemiology during a general academic pediatrics fellowship at the University of Washington.

Aitken has received funding from the National Institutes of Health, Centers for Disease Control, the Emergency Medical Services for Children Program of Maternal and Child Health Bureau, and other agencies to support her research in injury prevention in such areas as teen driving, car seats, all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), and safe sleep in high-risk populations. She has advocated at the state and national level on the issue of ATV safety.

A general pediatrician with clinical activities based at Arkansas Children’s Hospital, she has been a mentor to countless undergraduate and graduate students, as well as residents, junior faculty, and fellows during her academic career.

She is the recipient of numerous awards, including AOA; UAMS Outstanding Woman Faculty of the Year; the American Academy of Pediatrics Council on Injury, Violence and Poison Prevention Fellow Achievement Award; Drs. Joanna and Robert Siebert Award for team building from Arkansas Children’s Hospital; and the Paul Harris Fellow Award from Rotary International.

“I want to take this opportunity to thank the faculty and staff of the Department of Pediatrics for their patience during this transition period, and to thank Dr. Kevin Lally for serving as interim chair,” Stoll said. “I am confident that Dr. Aitken, with her experience and leadership, will embolden this department and guide its trajectory of growth to new heights.”

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