Longtime professor Dr. Nancy Chescheir to deliver Berryhill lecture

Nancy Chescheir, MD, professor of obstetrics and gynecology in the Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine, will be the featured speaker at the 33rd annual Norma Berryhill Distinguished Lecture and Faculty Welcome event. The event will take place Thursday, Nov. 30, at the Genome Sciences Building.

Chescheir's lecture will begin at 6 p.m. and a reception will follow.

About the Norma Berryhill Distinguished Lectureship:

The Dean and Advisory Committee of the School of Medicine established the Norma Berryhill Lectureship in September 1984. The Lectureship has two essential components: (1) a Lecture to be given annually by a tenured or tenure track member of the faculty of the Medical School; and (2) a convocation of the Medical School to be held at the time of the Lecture and at which new faculty members will be recognized.

The aims of the Lectureship are twofold. First, the selection of the Norma Berryhill Lecturer is meant to honor a member of the faculty whose accomplishments have added distinction to the Medical School.

Second, the convocation is intended to further a sense of community within the Medical School. Because Mrs. Berryhill was a major factor in developing this sense, the Lectureship was named in her honor.

About Dr. Nancy Chescheir:

Nancy Chescheir, MD, is a professor of obstetrics and gynecology and maternal-fetal medicine specialist in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the UNC School of Medicine.

Her long career as a noted educator, mentor and clinician began in the '70s, when she came to UNC-Chapel Hill to pursue her undergraduate degree in zoology. When she entered medical school, also at UNC, the only thing she knew was she did not want to be an obstetrician-gynecologist. That changed when a program to provide care in rural areas of North Carolina placed her in Eden, N.C. While there, Dr. Chescheir attended multiple deliveries that reflected disparities in care for North Carolina's women, and she returned to Chapel Hill committed to training as an OB-GYN.

She followed medical school with her OB-GYN residency and a fellowship in maternal-fetal medicine, both in the department and hospital at UNC where she now mentors junior faculty. She was the department's first board-certified female maternal-fetal medicine specialist and first female physician in that division, treating women with fetal abnormalities as well as women with a variety of high risk factors, such as multiple gestations – including caring for the first woman in North Carolina who delivered quintuplets all of whom survived.

In 1996, she was asked to serve as acting chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. It was a professional risk for a junior faculty member, and a time when female chairs were few and far between. But, accepting the challenge taught her important lessons about leadership, collaboration, recovering from mistakes and the value of saying 'yes' to opportunities outside a career plan – a value she tries to instill in young faculty today.

After completing her appointment as acting chair, she was appointed as the Associate Dean for the Curriculum. She served in this capacity until she was asked to lead a departmental fetal surgery program. In 2005, Dr. Chescheir left UNC to serve as chair of the OB-GYN department at Vanderbilt University in Tennessee. While this was ultimately unsuccessful, it led her to another unexpected opportunity: There was a half-time position available in the maternal-fetal medicine division at UNC, and the chair of surgery at Vanderbilt also invited her to work with a company opening a hospital in Botswana. Over the next two years, she spent almost a year in Botswana, hiring staff, helping to set clinical protocols and became the Chair of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Pediatrics, as well as the Superintendent of Bokomoso Private Hospital. During this time she developed a deep love for Africa and the women she served there. Had she been too devoted to a strident career plan early on, she now tells young faculty, she may have missed formative experiences that broadened her interests in scholarship, mentorship and patient care, as well as her worldview.

Dr. Chescheir devotes much of her time to scholarship as Editor-in-Chief of Obstetrics and Gynecology, otherwise known as The Green Journal. She is the sixth editor of the journal, and the first woman. In this role, she works to bring to light new, groundbreaking research, helping authors publish noteworthy work and increasing the transparency of the journal are major efforts of her work there, as she works to demystify the stringent peer-review process for authors and better connect in the digital world.

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