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About the department. Training future leaders, advancing discoveries, caring compassionately.

Learn more about Dr. Falk and the Department’s Vice Chairs, including Lee Berkowitz, MD, Vice Chair for Faculty Affairs; Debra Bynum, MD, MMEL, FACP, Vice Chair for Education; Cristin Colford, MD, Vice Chair for Clinical Services; Spencer Dorn, MD, MPH, MHA, Vice Chair for Care Innovation; Keisha Gibson, MD, MPH, Vice Chair for Diversity and Inclusion; Meghan McCann, Vice Chair for Hospital Integration; Linda Raftery, Vice Chair for Administration; and Janet Rubin, MD, Vice Chair for Research.

Ronald Falk, MD / Photo by Rochelle Moser

Ron Falk, MD

Nan and Hugh Cullman Eminent Professor
Chair, Department of Medicine
Co-Director, UNC Kidney Center

Dr. Falk was appointed as Chair of the University of North Carolina Department of Medicine in July, 2015 after having served as Chief of the Division of Nephrology and Hypertension from July, 1993 through May, 2015.

Dr. Falk is recognized as an international expert in vasculitis and autoimmune kidney disease. His career as a translational physician-scientist spans more than three decades. His practice and translational research focus on characterizing the cell, tissue and physiologic changes in the development of specific autoimmune kidney diseases and developing new approaches for studying autoimmunity, inflammation and basic neutrophil/monocyte biology. After the discovery in 1988 by Dr. Falk and colleagues of myeloperoxidase anti-neutrophil cytoplasmic autoantibodies (MPO-ANCA), his laboratory has focused on clinical and translational science investigation of the immunogenesis, pathogenesis and response to treatment of ANCA vasculitis and other autoimmune kidney disease.

Dr. Falk is a highly respected scholar and mentor who has guided, for over three decades, young physicians, scientists, and physician-scientists to successful careers in academia and industry.

Dr. Falk has served in various capacities within the American Society of Nephrology, including numerous committees and ASN Council. He served as its president from 2011-12. A notable achievement during his term as president was the founding of the Kidney Health Initiative in 2012, which is a public/private partnership of American Society of Nephrology and the U.S. FDA. During his tenure as ASN President, the American Society of Nephrology Foundation for Kidney Research was established with a substantial endowment. He has also served or chaired on numerous study sections and special emphasis panels within the National Institutes of Health. Dr. Falk continues to receive funding in a P01 Program Project Grant, “ANCA Glomerulonephritis: From Molecules to Man,” UM1, “GDCN Clinical Center—Advancing Clinical Research in Primary Glomerular Diseases,” and a T32 Renal Epidemiology Training Grant.

Lee Berkowitz, MD

Lee Berkowitz, MD

Eunice Bernhard Distinguished Professor
Vice Chair of Faculty Affairs, Department of Medicine

Dr. Lee R. Berkowitz is the Eunice Bernhard Distinguished Professor and Vice Chair of Faculty Affairs in the Department of Medicine. Dr. Berkowitz completed his MD degree at the Ohio State University College of Medicine followed by residency and chief residency in the Department of Medicine at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He then did fellowship training in hematology at Washington University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Dr. Berkowitz’s academic career has centered on his role as residency program director at UNC, a position he held until 2014. He has also served as president of the Association of Program Directors in Internal Medicine, chair of the test writing committee of the American College of Physicians In-training examination, and chair of the American Board of Internal Medicine Council.


Debra Bynum, MD, MMEL, FACP

Professor of Medicine
Vice Chair for Education, Department of Medicine

Originally from eastern North Carolina, Dr. Bynum was the first person in her family to attend college and graduated from Davidson in 1990 with a degree in Biology and a focus on ecology and marine biology. From there, she came to Chapel Hill for medical school and stayed at UNC for residency training. After completing a year as chief resident, she joined the faculty at WakeMed Hospital where she worked in the clinic caring for Raleigh’s underserved, attended on the inpatient service with UNC residents and students, and helped to found one of the first hospitalist programs in the area. 

After three years at WakeMed, she returned to UNC for further training as a fellow in the Geriatric Medicine program and was appointed to a faculty position in 2001. During the subsequent fourteen years, she held multiple leadership positions within the School of Medicine, the Department of Medicine, and the Geriatric Medicine Fellowship and Internal Medicine Residency programs. She directed the Acting Internship for senior students as well as co-directed the clinical skills course for second year students, served on the School of Medicine education committee, and helped to design, implement, and co-direct both a transition course for new third year students as well as a teaching elective for fourth year students. She served as the Program Director for the Geriatric Medicine Fellowship from 2008-2014 and was selected to lead the Internal Medicine Residency program in May of 2014. 

She has received multiple teaching awards and completed the requirements to earn a Master of Science degree in Medical Education Leadership. With this dedication to teaching and learners at all levels, Dr. Bynum was selected to serve as the Vice Chair for Education for the Department in 2022.  

Cristin Colford, MD, FACP

Cristin Colford, MD

Executive Vice Chair, Department of Medicine
Professor of Medicine
Vice Chair for Clinical Services, Department of Medicine

Dr. Cristin Colford is an experienced clinician, medical educator and administrator. She received her medical degree from the University of North Carolina School of Medicine in 2001, followed by residency and chief residency in 2005. Dr. Colford is Professor of Medicine in the Division of General Medicine. She is the former Associate Program Director for the internal medicine residency program and has experience in undergraduate medical education as a clerkship director, course director, and thread director for patient care and clinical skills. Her leadership has been recognized for curriculum development, learner assessment, faculty development, mentoring, and quality improvement. Dr. Colford has received numerous awards for outstanding teaching and clinical care, including the Academy of Educators Excellence in Teaching Award and the UNC Health Care Carolina Care Excellence Award.

As Vice Chair for Clinical Services, Dr. Colford supports clinical activities in each division by improving the efficiency of operations in both the ambulatory and hospital settings. She collaborates with faculty from all divisions in the UNC Department of Medicine, to develop innovative, patient centered, forward thinking models of care.

Spencer Dorn, MD, MPH, MHA

Spencer Dorn, MD, MPH, MHA

Professor of Medicine
Vice Chair for Care Innovation, Department of Medicine

Dr. Spencer Dorn arrived at UNC as a fellow in 2005, joined faculty in 2009, was appointed Vice Chief of Gastroenterology & Hepatology in 2012, and Vice Chair of Medicine for Care Innovation in 2019. In his current role, he focuses on enhancing existing care processes and models – while developing new ones – that support the department’s 600-plus physicians and advanced practice providers and that better meet the needs of the various patient populations they serve.

Dr. Dorn’s clinical practice focuses on functional GI and motility disorders, for which he has served as an investigator on numerous clinical trials, co-authored national practice guidelines, and has been consistently named to the list of Best Doctors in America. He is an experienced physician administrator who previously led and managed one of the nation’s premier academic gastroenterology practices. He broadly understands the forces shaping healthcare, serving on national gastroenterology practice committees, and frequently presenting and publishing on healthcare delivery.

Dr. Dorn received his undergraduate degree from the University of Michigan, his medical degree from the State University of New York at Brooklyn, and his Masters of Public Health and Masters of Health Care Administration from the UNC School of Public Health. He trained in internal medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and gastroenterology at UNC.

Keisha Gibson, MD, MPH

Keisha Gibson, MD, MPH

Associate Professor of Medicine and Pediatrics
Vice Chair of Equity and Community Engagement, Department of Medicine

Dr. Keisha Gibson is an Associate Professor of Medicine and Pediatrics and Chief of Pediatric Nephrology. She received her medical degree from the University of North Carolina School of Medicine and completed her residency training in Pediatrics at the Medical University of South Carolina. She returned to UNC to complete subspecialty training in Pediatric Nephrology and a Master’s degree of Public Health in Epidemiology in 2008. Since then, Dr. Gibson has served as a faculty member in the Division of Nephrology and Hypertension.

Dr. Gibson has earned many accolades, most recently being appointed Secretary Treasurer for the American Society of Nephrology (ASN). She has been inducted into the UNC Academy of Educators and received several teaching awards including the Foundation Phase Teaching Excellence Award, Hyman Battle Distinguished Excellence in Teaching Award and the Leonard Tow Humanism in Medical Faculty Award. While her clinical focus is on the care of children, adolescents, and young adults with kidney disease, Dr. Gibson is a co-investigator on several multicenter research studies surrounding glomerular diseases such as Focal Segmental Glomerulosclerosis and lupus nephritis.

In her role as Vice Chair of Equity and Community Engagement, Dr. Gibson will provide vision and leadership to develop programs and initiatives in the department that honor diversity, equity and inclusion. She brings a broad background of experience, including her work dedicated to improving the presence of under-represented minorities in healthcare, and supporting programs that expose youth and under-represented minorities to careers in math and science.

Janet Rubin, MD

Janet Rubin, MD

Sarah Graham Kenan Distinguished Professor of Medicine
Vice Chair for Research, Department of Medicine

Dr. Rubin became the Vice-Chair for Research in the Department of Medicine in 2015. She brings over 30 years of experience in funded research, NIH and VA grant review and junior faculty development to this position. A longstanding interest in mentoring young investigators toward independent research careers has been critical to her new initiatives as Vice-Chair. These include the Physician-Scientist Development Pathway, the recruitment of new physician scientists to the DOM, outreach to the DOM’s many K-grant holders, and involvement in UNC’s successful MSTP program. Along with Alex Duncan, she developed and teaches the highly successful R-grant writing group.

Dr. Rubin’s NIH funded laboratory investigates how physical factors regulate mesenchymal stem cell differentiation. Recent findings include that the nuclear envelope is a mechano-sensory site, and that intranuclear actin regulates osteogenesis. These studies use cellular techniques as well as a running mouse model.

Dr. Rubin practices endocrinology as a member of the Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism. She has adjunct appointments in Bioengineering, Pharmacology and Pediatrics. Dr. Rubin’s family is committed to UNC Medicine: her husband is a member of the Cardiology Division, her daughter is an Endocrinology fellow, and her son-in-law is a Nephrology fellow.

Linda Raftery

Linda Raftery, BSN, MHA

Vice Chair for Administration, Department of Medicine

Ms. Raftery received her BSN and Masters in Healthcare Administration, both from Duke University. She has served in diverse roles across many facets of health care, both in community hospitals and academic medical centers. Five years of nursing, primarily in intensive care units provided a critical foundation and desire to support and provide leadership for advances in health care delivery–from the lab to the bedside.

As Business Manager of Hospital Information Systems and Director of Radiology and Cardiology at Rex Hospital, Ms. Raftery led the expansion of Radiology services, implemented centralized scheduling and improved financial performance.

Ms. Raftery’s early management at UNC was with UNC Physicians and Associates, focusing on charge capture, coding and editing systems to facilitate clean claim filing. In 2007, she joined the Department of Medicine as the Manager for Cardiology and the Carolina Cardiovascular Biology Center. Soon thereafter, the healthcare system launched the Center for Heart and Vascular Care to facilitate multi-disciplinary care to patients with cardiac and vascular disease. Ms. Raftery served as the Associate Chief for Administration for UNC Center for Heart and Vascular Care from 2009 through 2015.

As Vice Chair for Administration in the Department of Medicine, Ms. Raftery serves as the chief administrative and  financial officer of the department, working with our administrative and financial leadership  to improve financial and operational performance across our clinical, research and education missions. Working with physician and administrative leadership across all twelve divisions of the Department of Medicine she represents the administrative lens to develop a strategic vision for the Department, implement new programs, recruit faculty, invest in research, promote education and manage efficient service oriented operations.