UNC Center for Bronchiectasis Care Team
While there are many pulmonary experts at UNC capable and experienced in the management of virtually all lung diseases, there are a few clinicians particularly interested and experienced in managing Bronchiectasis and NTM / mycobacterial lung infections.
M. Leigh Anne Daniels, MD, MPH
Assistant Professor of Medicine
Dr. Daniels is the Director of the UNC Center for Bronchiectasis Care. She gained her MD from Rutgers New Jersey Medical School in NJ in 2006, including an MPH in Biostatistics & Epidemiology. She trained in internal medicine and pediatrics in Rochester, NY (2010), followed by a fellowship in diseases of the lung at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC (2013). Since her appointment to the faculty at UNC, she focuses on the diagnosis and management of patients with all causes of bronchiectasis, including cystic fibrosis and primary ciliary dyskinesia (PCD). Extending from her clinical experience with these patients, her research particularly focuses on discovering the genetic variations that contribute to the development of idiopathic bronchiectasis (bronchiectasis without a known cause). These people are frequently infected with non-tuberculous mycobacterium (NTM), and many have family members with bronchiectasis. She is part of the research endeavors of the national Genetic Disorders of Mucociliary Clearance Consortium, the PCD Foundation, and the Bronchiectasis Research Registry. She is a co-investigator for several clinical trials for PCD and idiopathic bronchiectasis. She gave the prestigious “Grand Rounds” lecture at the UNC School of Medicine on the State of the Art, diagnosis, and management of NTM. She enjoys working with patients of all ages to improve their quality of life with bronchiectasis through optimal management of their lung disease.
Kunal Patel, MD PhD
Assistant Professor of Medicine
Dr. Patel recently joined the UNC Center for Bronchiectasis care in the fall of 2018. He completed an MD PhD program at the University of Pennsylvania with a focus on virology. He trained in internal medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, MA before returning to Philadelphia for a fellowship in pulmonary and critical care medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. His research in fellowship focused on T cell immunology in influenza and has an interest in lung immunology and deficits that may predispose patients to developing chronic lung infections such as non-tuberculosis mycobacteria. His clinical practice also includes patients with interstitial lung disease and fibrosis as well as critical care medicine. He is very interested in medical education with a focus on teaching patient centered care
Michael R. Knowles, MD
Professor of Medicine
Dr. Michael R Knowles is a Professor of Medicine at UNC, having gained his MD at UNC (1971), and his internal medicine training at Duke University (1975) and training in diseases of the lung at UNC Chapel Hill (1980). He is a recognized world expert in the area of CF, PCD, bronchiectasis, among other things (one of very few with such expertise). He has over four decades of clinical and research experience that spans the disciplines of biology, physiology, and design of clinical trials seeking new therapies for these diseases, ultimately to ease the suffering, and to improve quality of life and survival in affected individuals. He is currently the head of two large multicenter studies: 1) Genetic Modifiers of Disease phenotype (severity) in cystic fibrosis lung and liver disease, which also includes a recently formed International Consortium doing a whole genome scan; and 2) a Consortium with several sites in North America to study rare genetic disorders of mucociliary clearance. He is and has been holder of several large research grants to study many aspects of the diseases above, for example, that of a genetic modifiers of disease phenotype (severity) in CF lung and liver disease, which also includes differential gene expression studies and an international consortium doing a whole genome scan.
Morgan Jones, PharmD, BCACP, CPP
Clinical Pharmacist Practitioner
Morgan is the clinical pharmacist practitioner (CPP) for the UNC Center for Bronchiectasis Care. Morgan gained her Doctor of Pharmacy from the University of Kentucky in 2018. She completed her first year of residency at the University of Kentucky (2019) with a focus on community pharmacy and her second year of residency in ambulatory care at Virginia Commonwealth University (2020). Morgan was a clinical pharmacy specialist in primary care with the Hampton VA prior to joining UNC in 2022. In clinic, she offers comprehensive medication reviews as well as medication education/counseling. She works closely with the team to manage patients on home IV antibiotics and assists with the treatment and monitoring of drug therapy.
Priscilla Kilts, MSRC, RRT, RCP
RT Clinical Specialist
Priscilla Kilts is the Bronchiectasis Clinical Specialist for Respiratory Care. She joined UNC Healthcare in the summer of 2013, and in 2014 joined the pulmonary diagnostic team. She completed a Master of Science in Respiratory Care at Canisius College in Buffalo, NY in 2017, with a concentration in education. Priscilla has extensive experience in respiratory care for people of all ages, having spent several years with the pediatric pulmonary function lab, as well as with both the adult bronchoscopy team and adult pulmonary function lab.She appreciates being part of a team to provide comprehensive care to our patients. She also enjoys working with and educating patients in airway clearance techniques, breathing and cough maneuvers, and inhaled medication techniques to improve their quality of life.
Paula Marinis, RN, BSN
Bronchiectasis Nurse Coordinator
Paula was fortunate to join the UNC Health team in June of 2005. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing in 2003 from the University of Florida and has since spent most of her nursing career caring for pediatric and adult patients with oncologic and blood disorders until joining the Pulmonary Specialty Clinic in 2019. Prior to joining the pulmonary team, she worked as a Bone Marrow and Stem Cell Transplant Nurse Coordinator for 9 years. She enjoys working as part of a multidisciplinary team with our physicians, pharmacy, and respiratory therapy colleagues. In this role, she assists in coordinating various aspects of the patient care plan and hopes to enhance the overall experience for patients and their families/caregivers.
Katherine “Alex” Despotes, MD
Medicine & Pediatrics, Pulmonary Diseases and Critical Care Fellow
Dr. Despotes is currently a combined Adult Pulmonary and Critical Care and Pediatric Pulmonary fellow with clinical and research interests in bronchiectasis care across the age spectrum. She completed her medical school degree at UNC Chapel Hill in 2015, and went on to pursue combined Internal Medicine and Pediatrics residency training at UNC (2015-2019). She served as the UNC Med Peds Chief Resident from 2019-2020 and specifically chose UNC for fellowship training because of her interests in the bronchiectasis patient population and the strong mentorship in this area at UNC. She has enjoyed being a part of the multi-disciplinary bronchiectasis team during her fellowship and the opportunity to learn and work with experts in this field while caring for patients with this challenging condition.
Kunal Jakharia, MD
Pulmonary Diseases and Critical Care Medicine Fellow
Dr Jakharia is currently an Adult Pulmonary and Critical Care fellow with an ardent interest in non-CF bronchiectasis. He completed his Internal Medicine residency at MedStar Georgetown University/Washington Hospital Center in Washington DC from 2016-2019. Before moving to the US, he graduated from medical school at Topiwala National Medical College in Mumbai, India in 2011, and practiced as a general internist and critical care physician. He developed liking toward non-CF bronchiectasis while working on research with Dr Knowles and Dr Daniels, and currently has a training grant for pursuing research in patients with primary ciliary dyskinesia. Dr Jakharia has a passion for medical education and believes strongly in moving medicine forward.
Adam Kimple, MD
Dr. Kimple is an assistant professor in the Department of Otolaryngology/Head & Neck Surgery. He completed his MD/PhD at UNC Chapel Hill in 2012. Following this, he continued his training at UNC and completed a residency in Otolaryngology and a fellowship in Advanced Rhinology, Allergy and Endoscopic Skull Base Surgery. His clinical and research interests are centered around treating patient with chronic rhinosinusitis and mucociliary disorders such as cystic fibrosis (CF) and primary ciliary dyskinesia (PCD). He enjoys working with patients of all ages to improve their quality of life through optimal management of their sinus disease.
We collaborate with others in the following fields as appropriate: Radiology, Otolaryngology (ENT), Cardiothoracic Surgery, Infectious Disease, Microbiology, Allergy & Immunology, Gastroenterology, Palliative Care.