Skip to main content

Hugh McAllister Distinguished Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology
Professor, Maternal & Child Health, School of Public Health
Fellow ad eundem, Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists

Founder of UNC Horizons Program

John M. Thorp, Jr. is the McAllister Distinguished Professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. He is also a Professor of Maternal and Child Health in the UNC Gillings School of Public Health. Dr. Thorp is the founder of the Horizons Perinatal Substance Abuse Program. He is a fellow at both the Sheps Center for Health Services Research and the Carolina Population Center.

Dr. Thorp has more than 36 years of superb clinical, research and academic service for which he has received numerous honors. He is well regarded nationally in the obstetrical community, and locally, where he has been asked to serve as a consultant to various regional hospitals. His efforts with students have garnered him several teaching and student research awards, and his strong role in the University and the School of Medicine has meant his involvement in committees focusing on faculty issues such as promotion and tenure as well as academic issues such as curriculum development. He is an honorary fellow of the Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Professor Thorp helped start the Global Women’s Health Division and launch the first obstetrics and gynecology residency in Sub Saharan Africa. He was director of the Division of General Obstetrics and Gynecology for six years, growing the division from three providers to 24 providers and extending the division to UNC Hillsborough, UNC Weaver Crossing and UNC Panther Creek sites. The Horizons perinatal Substance Abuse Program, considered world class, and one of the few programs treating both women and children. He pioneered medication-assisted treatment for opiate use disorders in pregnancy. Horizons just opened a new four-million dollar outpatient center and day care in Carrboro. He is also the medical director and co-founder of the Reply practice, which uses fertility awareness education as its primary approach to women’s health.

Research endeavors by Dr. Thorp have included more than 75 grants on which he has served a principal role. These grants range in topics, to include hormone replacement, treatment for vaginitis, substance abuse among pregnant women, smoking cessation in pregnancy, preterm labor and delivery, oral contraceptive development, the study of cervicofetal fibronectin, the use of antibiotic prophylaxis, perinatal HIV infection and others. Dr. Thorp’s grants are sponsored by a number of private and public sources, which include several pharmaceutical companies, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institutes of Health, and the National Institute for Drug Abuse. Currently he is a Principal Investigator for the Maternal Fetal Medicine Units Network grant, UNC being one of sixteen centers nationwide doing research into preterm birth and its causes. He was also consultant obstetrician to the NC sites in the National Children’s Study.

Dr. Thorp is widely published in the obstetric and medical literature, and is considered an expert on obstetrical practice in general, with particular research interests in substance abuse issues surrounding women’s health, the epidemiology of preterm birth, and pelvic floor disorders. His research discoveries include that routine episiotomies predispose to rectal injury, progestins can prevent preterm birth, magnesium has neuroprotective effects for babies born prematurely, late preterm babies can benefit from corticosteroids, and the benefits of labor induction in the 39th week for first-time mothers. Methodologically, he is also considered to have considerable expertise in the development and management of clinical trials, and has demonstrated his capability across a large number of study designs and trials of varying magnitude. Google Scholar credits him with more than 20,000 citations (01/01/2020) and an h-index of 43. Dr. Thorp is North American Editor of the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology and recently was made a fellow by the Royal College.


Clinical Profile

John M. Thorp, Jr., MD – UNC Health Care

Areas of Research

  • preterm birth
  • cervical insufficiency
  • clinical trials
  • nutrition in pregnancy
  • health disparities
  • alcohol and drug abuse research
  • outreach education
Photo of Dr. Thorp