Q&A: Dr. Jennifer Christner

Dr. Jennifer Christner joined Baylor College of Medicine as the dean of the School of Medicine this June. She came to Baylor from State University of New York Upstate Medical University, where she served as associate dean for undergraduate medical education. Learn more about Christner in this Q&A.

What are your clinical and research interests? I am a pediatrician who has spent most of my clinical time taking care of adolescents. I love talking to teens! I remember my own teen years so vividly and can still relate to much of what they are going through. For research, I love studying medical education – trying innovative ideas and assessing them to see how well they work!

What is your vision for the School of Medicine? We accept students and residents who start off amazing and graduate as amazing individuals. I want the education they receive here to be cutting edge. I want Baylor medical education to be recognized as the model to follow nationally.

Dr. Jennifer Christner

Dr. Jennifer Christner

How do you like Houston so far? Well, I was asked about travelling to San Antonio this fall. I am from the MidWest and most recently Syracuse, N.Y., which has won the Golden Snowglobe’s Snowiest City Award more than once! So, my gut response to travelling in the fall was that we better go before November if we don’t want to get trapped in a blizzard. Then I realized, oh my gosh – I don’t have to worry about that here! I like Houston!!!

What is your favorite thing about BCM so far? The people. Everyone is so incredibly friendly and works extremely hard. I have felt at home since day one. Faculty and staff are eager to do whatever it takes to move Baylor medical education to the next level.

Where are you originally from? I was born near Los Angeles but moved to Columbus, Ohio, when I was 5. The only thing I remember about California is Disneyland and losing my Raggedy Anne doll on the It’s a Small World ride. Columbus is really my “home” and I’m an Ohio State Buckeye through and through even though I spent some of the best years of my professional life thus far at the University of Michigan, Ohio State’s arch rival. I will sometimes cheer for Michigan – except for that big game day in November. You’ll see me that week dressed in my scarlet and gray!

Tell us about your family.I will be celebrating my 22nd wedding anniversary with my husband, Rob, this fall. He has a Ph.D. in microbiology, and we met at Ohio State in the lab where I was working on my undergraduate honors thesis. We have three children, ages 12, 10 and 8, and they are becoming these amazing individuals who make us laugh all the time. My youngest was thrilled to move to Houston because when we came to visit, he fell in love with the food! Tacos are his favorite!

What’s your favorite food? Hmmm. Pizza. Donuts. Frozen yogurt with all the fun toppings.

Most people wouldn’t know that I… Wanted to be an actress or a TV news journalist when I was little. I actually changed my major to journalism for one week when I was an undergraduate at Ohio State. Then I wimped out because pre-med was a “safer” field and I knew I would always have a job. However, I’ve found that interest comes in handy. I was on “Ask the Doctor” TV segments for many years when I worked in Toledo and really enjoyed that.

Anything else you want to add? Please feel free to stop by – I’m hoping to host some “Coffee with the Dean” sessions soon so I can meet more people.

Read more about our new medical school dean’s educational and professional background in this press release.