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Department Mission

A view of Macnider HallThe purpose of the Department of Medicine at the University of North Carolina is to align research and education with outstanding patient care, and to transform clinical medicine into patient-centered care, delivered with the highest standards of quality, compassion and cost-consciousness, and based on an infrastructure that nimbly adjusts to an ever-changing landscape.

History of the Department

During the middle and late 1940’s, the idea of a complete University Health Center to serve as the corner stone of a coordinated statewide health program became established throughout North Carolina, and the Health Division at the University of North Carolina was created. This vision was followed by legislative appropriations during 1945, 1947, 1949, and 1951 to make possible the expansion of the existing two-year School of Medicine to a four-year school, to construct the necessary associated hospital facilities, and to establish new Schools of Nursing and Dentistry.
History of Medicine book

The Department of Medicine was formed in 1951 with the creation of the four-year medical school and with the appointment of the first chair, Dr. Charles Burnett. He served the Department as chair until 1964. The 1963-1964 Department of Medicine Annual Report stated that the Department had a total of 44 faculty and 461 students and house staff; 8 training grants totaling $327,846; and 33 other grants totaling $579,672. Faculty had published 54 papers. Pressing needs and recommendations for the future, identified by Dr. Burnett, were space to recruit faculty in the areas of endocrinology and genetics and monies to increase salaries in order to remain competitive.
UNC campus

The following individuals have served as Chair of the Department:

  • Dr. Charles Burnett, 1951-1964
  • Dr. Louis G. Welt, 1965-72
  • Dr. Robert Ney, 1972-1980
  • Dr. David Ontjes, 1981-1989
  • Dr. Fred Sparling, 1989-2000
  • Dr. Marschall S. Runge, 2000-2014
  • Dr. Ronald Falk, 2015-present

Department of Medicine Leadership

Visit our leadership page to learn more about Dr. Falk and the department’s vice chairs, including Lee Berkowitz, MD, Vice Chair for Education; Cristin Colford, MD, Vice Chair for Clinical Services; Meghan McCann, Vice Chair for Hospital Integration; Spencer Dorn, MD, Vice Chair for Care Innovation; Keisha Gibson, MD, MPH, Vice Chair for Diversity and Inclusion; Janet Rubin, MD, Vice Chair for Research; Linda Raftery, Vice Chair for Administration.

Read the Chairman’s Welcome here.

Photos of campus by Chris Polydoroff. Photo of Medicine at Chapel Hill book by Rochelle Moser.