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Dr. Paul Byers to step down as state epidemiologist, replacement named

Paul Byers
Photo courtesy of the Mississippi State Department of Health

The Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) has announced that State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers will retire at the end of June.

Byers has served in numerous leadership positions during his more than 30-year tenure at the MSDH, most recently as state epidemiologist since 2016. He has also served as Deputy State Health Officer and the medical director for several county health department clinics, the Office of Epidemiology, and the Office of Communicable Diseases.

“Dr. Byers will be hugely missed – not only for his institutional knowledge and expertise, but also for his constant professionalism and patience,” State Health Officer Dr. Dan Edney said. “He has an unparalleled ability to explain complicated issues with clarity and simplicity. That has been a huge asset in working with the public and our public health partners.”

Dr. Kathryn Taylor has been named the Interim State Epidemiologist, effective July 1.

Currently serving as Deputy State Epidemiologist since 2019, Dr. Taylor has worked at MSDH for several years, previously as District V Health Officer and Medical Consultant for the Office of Communicable Diseases.

Dr. Taylor has provided guidance for surveillance and surveillance systems to the agency, has led and been involved in numerous outbreak and reportable diseases investigations, and in the responses to other diseases of public health significance.

“Dr. Taylor has worked in tandem with me for the past several years investigating outbreaks and responding to a variety of public health emergencies, most notably COVID,” Byers said. “Her knowledge and passion for the field of epidemiology is a benefit to the State of Mississippi.”

A Jackson native, Taylor is a graduate of Mississippi College and the University of Mississippi Medical Center, where she completed her residency in family medicine.

She is a member of the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists, the American Academy of Family Physicians, the Mississippi Academy of Family Physicians, and the Mississippi State Medical Association.

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