MCALLEN, RGV – Texas A&M University will soon launch the nation’s first engineering and medicine program.

Dr. Carrie Byington, dean of the Texas A&M College of Medicine, gave a presentation during a luncheon hosted by Texas A&M and the McAllen Chamber of Commerce. Topics under discussion included Texas A&M University Chancellor John Sharp’s Healthy South Texas initiative, its progress and providing more opportunities for students. One of these new opportunities is a new engineering and medicine program.

“Texas A&M University is a collaborative university and we want to work with all the degree programs. [For this program,] individuals will have an undergraduate degree in engineering, go to the medical school and in four years earn both an M.D. (Doctor of Medicine) degree and a master’s in engineering,” Byington said. “We’re living in the 21st century where technology is all important. Our students are very interested in creating the new devices [and] the new processes to transform healthcare.”

As a land grant institution, Byington, a South Texas native, says the university is committed to every single county in the state of Texas and when she looks at South Texas, she sees a direct alignment with their care for rural populations. While Texas A&M has a small footprint in the region, Byington says they intend to grow their presence as it relates to the Healthy South Texas program and educational opportunities.

“Healthy South Texas has just completed its second year in operation,” Byington said. “We have now reached over 800,000 individuals in 27 counties. We know that our diabetes program and our asthma program have served the state and have saved about $32 million in direct healthcare costs.”

Byington says her goal as dean, senior vice president of the Texas A&M University Health Science Center and vice chancellor for Health Services at the Texas A&M University System, is to really mobilize the aggie network of healthcare providers; to train and educate individuals in every county whether they be patients, students or healthcare professionals.

“I am really committed to trying to transform healthcare and to eliminate health disparities in the state of Texas,” Byington said. “South Texas has a great number of health issues and we believe that as a land grant institution, Texas A&M can address some of these major health issues in our state.”