Tara Moon, PhD, MLS(ASCP)CM was announced as Director of the Division of Clinical Laboratory Science (CLS) on July 1, 2023. Dr. Moon is a professor within the division and has been on faculty for more than 20 years. She assumes the role following the retirement of long-time Division Director Dr. Susan Beck.
“As a graduate of Carolina’s CLS program, it is an honor and a privilege to assume the role of division director for CLS,” says Dr. Moon. “Our program and graduates have excellent reputations among employers and I am dedicated to maintaining these high standards as we grow and adjust in the dynamic field of clinical laboratory science. I am most proud of our students and graduates, the contributions they are making in healthcare and the leadership roles they have taken on to advance clinical laboratory practice.”
Dr. Moon holds a B.S. in Biology and Clinical Laboratory Science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; a M.S. in Health Services Research from Wake Forest University; and a PhD in Health Related Sciences from Virginia Commonwealth University. Following her graduation from UNC’s CLS program, Dr. Moon worked in the Transfusion Medicine Service at UNC Hospitals, where she had the opportunity to teach CLS students in their rotation at the bench. She found herself eager to share her knowledge and enjoyed the challenges of answering student questions, and was entering a point in her career where research was top of mind. Dr. Moon joined the faculty as a Clinical Instructor within the Division of CLS in 2002 in an opportunity to combine her varying interests as a laboratory scientist.
In her time at UNC Dr. Moon has served as Admissions Chair for the CLS undergraduate and graduate programs and has held positions on the university’s Faculty Council and Scholarships, Awards and Student Aid Committee. She is a two-time recipient of the UNC CLS Louise Ward Excellence in Teaching Award. Within the profession she has led the North Carolina Association of Blood Bankers through terms as Secretary and President, and is currently the Section Editor for the Research and Reports section of the Clinical Laboratory Science journal and a reviewer for the Journal of Allied Health.
“Because of the excellent mentorship of longtime CLS faculty members like Susan Beck and Vicky LeGrys, I feel ready to take on the challenges that come with serving as division director and I am excited for the future,” says Dr. Moon. “I am fortunate to be able to work with innovative and collaborative colleagues in our Division who share the same values and passion for the clinical laboratory profession.”
Dr. Moon is accomplished in her research surrounding the utilization of sweat chloride testing for diagnosis and screening in cystic fibrosis (CF), with funding provided by the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Working alongside CLS Professor Emerita Dr. Vicky LeGrys, the research has involved the first-known effort to quantify biological variation and include analytical variation for sweat chloride testing for adult CF patients. Findings have been essential to inform clinicians about how to interpret a change in sweat chloride results and assess outcomes of new protein modulator therapies used in the CF patient population. This area of research led Dr. Moon to serve as a consultant on the Sweat Testing Advisory Board for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.
On top of her own research efforts, a common thread found throughout Dr. Moon’s time in her faculty position is a desire to develop and enhance research competency within the division’s undergraduate students. “From the development of our first didactic research course to the implementation of an applied research project within a formal course and the dissemination of those results through publication, I am proud of my contributions in this area,” says Dr. Moon. “I look forward to future efforts to expand in this area in terms of numbers of students and their topics for projects.”
Dr. Hooper, Associate Dean of Medicine and Chair of the Department of Health Sciences shared, “We are extremely fortunate to have Dr. Moon assume this important leadership role for the Division of Clinical Laboratory Sciences. She is an accomplished teacher and researcher, and I have no doubt that she will be an amazing contributor to the innovations and advancements of not only this Division, but the larger field of CLS. With her leadership, I am excited about the future of the programs under her purview.”
The Division of Clinical Laboratory Science recognized its 70th anniversary in 2022-2023. It recently awarded the class of 2023, six MS students and 17 BS students, with degrees and will welcome its newest class in August.