Dr. Mary Austin is an Associate Professor in both the Department of Pediatric Surgery at McGovern Medical School at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth Houston) and in Surgical Oncology and Pediatrics at the UT MD Anderson Cancer Center. She completed her Surgery residency at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee. During residency, Dr. Austin also received a Masters in Public Health from the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. She completed her Surgical Critical Care and Pediatric Surgery training at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles in July 2010. Dr. Austin is board certified in Surgery, Surgical Critical Care and Pediatric Surgery.

She has a special interest in pediatric surgical oncology, surgical critical care including ECMO, fetal surgery and clinical research. Her research focus is identifying and addressing health disparities that affect children with surgical conditions and developing methods that incorporate technology to improve access to care for children with complex medical problems.  She is also the site-principle investigator (PI) for several multi-institutional studies sponsored by the North American Fetal Therapy Network (NAFTNet).  She is a faculty mentor for our Center for Surgical Trials and Evidence-based Practice (C-STEP) program.


Biology and Chemistry - Duke University, Durham, NC
Doctor of Medicine - Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, TN
Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, TN
General Surgery - Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, TN
General Surgery - Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, TN
Research Residency
Hepatobiliary Surgery and Liver Transplantation - Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, TN
Surgical Critical Care - Children's Hospital Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA

Areas of Interest

Clinical Interests

Pediatric surgical oncology, surgical critical care including ECMO. She is also interested in identifying geographic and socioeconomic barriers to care for pediatric cancer patients and working to dissolve these barriers.

Research Interests

Identifying Disparities in Access to Care for Pediatric Cancer Patients
Splenectomy for Congenital Hemolytic Anemia Consortium

March of Dimes Perinatal Safety Center
Project PI: Kuojen Tsao, MD
Project 4 Optimization of the transition to home for high-risk infants PI: Mary Austin, MD, MPH
In partnership with the March of Dimes, McGovern Medical School at UTHealth and Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital established the first research center in the country dedicated to improving maternal and infant safety and preventing unnecessary illness and death.  The work is funded by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.  Dr. Austin is the PI for Project 4 which aims to develop and test a comprehensive transition to home program for high risk infants as they transition from the neonatal intensive care unit to home.  This program incorporates telehealth applications to assist parents in the care of their medically complex child.

Pediatric Melanoma and Other Rare Tumors in Children and Adolescents
Project PI: Mary Austin, MD, MPH
The UT MD Anderson Cancer Center provides a unique environment in which to study pediatric and adolescent patients with rare tumors that more often occur in the adult population.  For example, there are approximately 300-400 new melanoma diagnoses in children and adolescents each year in the United States.  It is unclear as to the etiology of melanoma in this patient population as sun exposure is likely not the only contributing factor especially in the younger patients.  We worked closely with our colleagues in pediatric oncology and adult surgical oncology to establish a multidisciplinary team approach to the management of these patients.  We are also prospectively enrolling patients in a data and tissue collection study and plan to use this information to identify key prognostic factors in the development of the disease.

Multi-institutional Study of Infectious Outcomes in Gastroschisis Patients with Intraoperative Hypothermia
Project PI: Amy Wagner, MD
Site PI: Mary Austin, MD, MPH
Gastroschisis is the most common congenital abdominal wall defect and is frequently associated with long-term morbidity often related to infectious complications.  Perioperative hypothermia is a known risk factor for wound infections and coagulopathy and due to their exposed bowel, gastroschisis patients are at increased risk for excessive heat loss.  The aim of this study is establish if an association exists between hypothermia and the rate of surgical site infections in patients with gastroschisis, identify any operative variables that may correlate with the risk of developing hypothermia and investigate the impact of operative time on the development of hypothermia in gastroschisis patients.

Multi-institutional Study of Gastroschisis Patients with Organ Prolapse
Project PI: Amy Wagner, MD
Site PI: Mary Austin, MD, MPH
Gastroschisis is the most common congenital abdominal wall defect and is further categorized as either simple or complex.  Complex gastroschisis refers to gastroschisis complicated by intestinal atresia, necrosis, ischemia, perforation or short gut syndrome.  While several prenatal findings have been correlated with a higher risk of postnatal complications (intra-abdominal bowel dilation, polyhdramnios and gastric dilation), the impact of additional organ prolapse on postnatal outcome is unclear.   The purpose of this multi-institutional study is to determine if additional organ prolapse (stomach, bladder, uterus or adnexa) is associated with postnatal outcomes for gastroschisis.