Global Women’s Health Fellowship
This unique opportunity provides early career training for obstetrician-gynecologists (OB-GYNs) aspiring to an academic career in global women’s health. This research fellowship leverages the strengths of the University of North Carolina (UNC) School of Medicine, the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, and three established institutions in southern Africa.
Our fellows spend two years at one of our affiliated sites: the University of Zambia Teaching Hospital (Lusaka, Zambia), UNC Project–Malawi (Lilongwe, Malawi), or the University of Witwatersrand (Johannesburg, South Africa). All are academically vibrant, with three-part missions of clinical research, service delivery, and training.
Our Division of Global Women’s Health holds a robust portfolio of independently funded projects focused on clinical research, field epidemiology, and implementation science / program evaluation. Each site has full-time UNC OB-GYN faculty living in-country, providing administrative support and mentorship.
Our fellows gain first-hand experience in the conduct of research, including study design and management, scientific writing, and cross-cultural and interdisciplinary collaboration. For those who wish to complete graduate-level coursework, an optional third year of fellowship is also available. By the end of their training, our fellows are prepared for academic OB-GYN careers focused on global women’s health.
Meet our former and current fellows:
Josephine Eva Gathura, MD, MPH (2021-present) received her MD and MPH degree from St. George’s University School of Medicine in Grenada, West Indies. She completed Ob-Gyn residency at Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn, New York. Following her clinical training, she joined the Global Women’s Health division as a research fellow seeking to improve women’s health in marginalized communities and underdeveloped countries. Based in Zambia, her primary research seeks to improve access to early antenatal care using community-based approaches. She is also supporting clinical trials for HIV prevention in at-risk women. Her research interests include social determinants of health, preventive medicine, maternal/fetal outcomes, and capacity building.
Fan Lee, MD (2020-present) received her MD from University of Washington in Seattle and completed her OB-GYN residency at University of North Carolina Chapel Hill. Following her clinical training, she moved to Lilongwe, Malawi to support ongoing research in cervical cancer prevention. These include studies on HPV screening and same-day treatment of precancerous lesions. Dr. Lee also works at Kamuzu Central Hospital and works closely with University of Malawi, College of Medicine OBGYN residents. After fellowship, Dr. Lee hopes to continue working with women in low-resource communities.
Bridget Spelke, MD (2019-present) received her MD from Emory University and completed her Ob-Gyn residency at Women and Infants Hospital/Brown University School of Medicine. After clinical training, she moved to Lusaka to support two clinical studies designed to improve maternal/infant outcomes, with emphasis on the antenatal and intrapartum periods. Through her research, she hopes to develop strategies to make perinatal care accessible, equitable, and responsive to the health and well-being of women throughout their life course, including in resource-constrained settings like Zambia.
Kellie Freeborn, NP, PhD, (2018-2021) is a Nurse Practitioner with extensive experience in the treatment and prevention of HIV and sexually transmitted infections. Previously, she served as faculty at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), where she specialized in teaching HIV prevention, management and policy issues. She helped to establish the first nurse practitioner-led HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) clinics in San Francisco. She also served on the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), HIV/AIDS Bureau Office of HIV/AIDS Training and Capacity Development team at UCSF where she provided training to HIV providers. During her PhD studies at UCSF, Dr. Freeborn was the recipient of NIH T32 and F31 National Research Service Awards, which funded her research in the field. Throughout her career she has served as a clinical mentor to nurses, nurse practitioners and MDs in HIV care. As part of her fellowship, Dr. Freeborn investigated new implementation strategies for HIV prevention among pregnant and breastfeeding women.
Alan Rosenbaum, MD (2018-2020)
eceived his MD from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, and completed his training in Obstetrics and Gynecology at The Ohio State University. He previously has worked on increasing cervical cancer screening access using low-cost HPV tests in El Salvador through the Fulbright program.
Dr. Rosenbaum joined the Global Health Division as a clinical provider and research fellow seeking to improve health care access through novel technologies. His fellowship project involved the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning to improve ultrasound performance in low-resource settings in a project funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Kartik Venkatesh, MD, PhD (2017-2018) received his medical degree and doctorate in epidemiology from Brown University. He completed a postdoctoral research fellowship at Massachusetts General Hospital and Women & Infants Hospital of Rhode Island, before heading to the Harvard/Brigham and Women’s Hospital/Massachusetts General Hospital integrated program for OB-GYN residency. Dr. Venkatesh has published over 50 manuscripts, including original research in global health and women’s health. His interests include HIV/STI transmission and prevention, natural history of HIV infection in women, maternal morbidities during pregnancy, and obstetrical outcomes.
Leeya Pinder, MD, MPH (2016-2018) received her MD from the Medical University of South Carolina and her clinical OB-GYN training at the University of Cincinnati.
She completed her MPH from the Harvard School of Public Health, while at the Boston University Medical Center / Massachusetts General Hospital. Dr. Pinder joined our program with co-funding from the UJMT Fogarty Global Health Fellowship. During her time in Zambia, she spearheaded several NIH-funded studies focused on cervical and breast cancer screening in resource-constrained environments. Following her fellowship, Dr. Pinder pursued subspecialty training in gynecologic oncology at the University of Washington.
Catherine Ford, MD, MPH (2015-2017) received her medical degree from New York University and her MPH from Harvard School of Public Health.
She completed her OB-GYN residency at the Thomas Jefferson University Hospital before joining the UNC GWH Fellowship. Over two years in Zambia, Dr. Ford implemented a randomized trial of point-of-care virologic testing to improve the diagnosis and retention of HIV-infected children. After her fellowship, she joined the academic faculty of the University of Illinois at Chicago, where she continues her role as a clinician-researcher focused on global women’s health.
Nurain Fuseini, MD, MHS (2015-2017) received his MD from the University of Rochester and his Masters in Health Sciences from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. He joined our fellowship after his OB-GYN training at the Pennsylvania Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania Health System. Dr. Fuseini investigated the inflammatory processes that may underpin preterm birth related to HIV and antiretroviral therapy.
Joni Price, MD, MPH (2015-2017) is a U.S. and Zambia board-certified Obstetrician-Gynecologist. She received her MD and MPH degrees from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine and completed her OB-GYN residency at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. After an initial year of epidemiology coursework in Chapel Hill, Dr. Price moved to Lusaka to lead two randomized trials of progesterone to reduce preterm birth among HIV-infected pregnant women on antiretroviral therapy. Using advanced methods in epidemiology and health economics, she will analyze data from these studies to inform broader implementation of such interventions in resource-constrained settings.
Marcela Castillo, MD (2014-2017) completed her medical degree and OB-GYN residency at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas. After spending her first fellowship year in Chapel Hill, she moved to Zambia for two years to implement the Global Alliance to Prevent Prematurity and Stillbirth (GAPPS) study at Lusaka’s University Teaching Hospital. As part of this work, she studied the underlying placental changes and microbiome associated with preterm birth among HIV-infected and HIV-uninfected women. Dr. Castillo completed coursework for a Masters of Science in Clinical Research (MSCR) from UNC in 2017. She is currently a faculty member at the Dell Medical School at the University of Texas at Austin, where she continues to work at the intersection of OB-GYN, population health, and global health.
Dawn Kopp, MD, MPH (2014-2016) completed her medical degree at the George Washington University School of Medicine, her MPH at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and her Ob-Gyn residency at the University of Washington.
For this fellowship, she was posted in Lilongwe, Malawi to develop and implement a research portfolio focused on family planning and obstetric fistula. She received the UNC Cefalo Bowes Young Researcher Award to conduct qualitative research on birth spacing for women experiencing a stillbirth or neonatal death. She was also recipient of the UJMT Fogarty Global Health Fellowship to examine the long-term outcomes of women following obstetric fistula repair. She has led several secondary analyses investigating adoption, continuation, and switching among Malawian women. After completing her fellowship in July 2016, Dr. Kopp accepted a position in clinical practice in Spokane, WA.
Nancy Hancock, MD, MPH (2013-2015) attended the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill School of Medicine and completed her OB-GYN residency at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, NC. She also received her MPH in International Health at Tulane University of Louisiana.
She lived full-time in Zambia for two years, leading several projects in global women’s health. This included studies investigating the quality of family planning services in Lusaka and the need for integrated services within the context of HIV programs.
After her fellowship, Dr. Hancock started clinical practice in Rocky Mount, NC, where she is providing care to underserved populations in the eastern part of the state.
Yvonne Butler (2011-2012) received her MD from Michigan State University and completed clinical OB-GYN training at the Henry Ford Health Systems. She lived in Zambia from 2011 to 2012, where she helped to expand basic and comprehensive emergency obstetrical services in the country’s Eastern Province. Her work included applied research to inform public health programming and policy development. Following her fellowship, Dr. Butler joined the academic faculty of the Baylor College of Medicine to continue her global OB-GYN career in Liberia.
Carla Chibwesha, MD, MSc (2009-2012) received her MD and clinical OB-GYN training at Brown University. She completed her fellowship while based full-time in Zambia, the country of her birth. As a fellow, Dr. Chibwesha was broadly engaged in women’s health research, leading projects in cervical cancer, family planning, safe motherhood, and the prevention of mother-to-child HIV transmission (PMTCT).
Since joining the UNC OB-GYN faculty in 2012, her research has been increasingly focused on cervical cancer screening and treatment in sub-Saharan Africa. She moved to Johannesburg, South Africa in 2014, where she currently leads the University of Witwatersrand site for the NIH-funded AIDS and Malignancy Consortium (AMC). She also serves as chair for a multi-country AMC trial to investigate the role of HPV vaccination in women undergoing treatment for cervical cancer precursors.
K. Cherry Liu, MD (2009-2012) completed her MD at the Baylor College of Medicine and her clinical OB-GYN training at Emory University. Dr. Liu was based full-time in Lusaka over her three-year fellowship, where she led several studies of obstetrical outcomes.
She oversaw the Zambia Electronical Perinatal Record System, a networked electronic medical record that captured antenatal and newborn information across 25 district health facilities. She was also the Zambia lead for a two-country surveillance of congenital anomalies and birth outcomes among HIV-infected women with antiretroviral exposure at time of conception. Dr. Liu joined the UNC OB-GYN faculty for two additional years, before returning to the U.S.
She is currently a staff physician at Christ Community Health Services and a faculty member at the University of Tennessee in Memphis.