Skip to main content

Sylvia Becker-Dreps, MD, MPH

Associate Director, Latin America Focus

Sylvia Becker-Dreps, MD, MPH is an Associate Professor in the Departments of Family Medicine and Epidemiology. Her research has focused on pediatric infectious diseases in the developing world. She directs the UNC Program in Nicaragua, where she studies the epidemiology and prevention of viral gastroenteritis in children, and conducts studies to better understand Zika virus infections. Most of this research is supported by research grants from the NIH. Her work has involved collaborations with the University of Nicaragua-León (UNAN-León) and the Nicaraguan Ministry of Health. Dr. Becker-Dreps is currently supported by a Mid-Career Investigator Award from NIAID. Dr. Becker-Dreps is also the Co-Program Director of the “The Nicaraguan Emerging and Endemic Diseases (NEED)” Fogarty D43 Training Program, which builds research capacity in Nicaragua, including starting a Biomedical Sciences PhD Program at UNAN-León. Within the UNC School of Medicine, Dr. Becker-Dreps serves as the Associate Director of the Office of Global Health Education. She is co-course instructor for the course, “Foundations in Global Health” (GLBE 201/401).

Dr. Becker-Dreps is a former NRSA-Primary Care Research Fellow at UNC. She completed residency at the Providence-Swedish Family Medicine Residency in Seattle, Washington. She received her medical degree from Duke University School of Medicine and an MPH from UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health. For over twenty years, she has performed clinical work in the community health center setting, where she serves primarily uninsured and Spanish-speaking patients. She previously served as the medical director of the North Carolina Farmworker Health Program. Before returning to an academic setting, she performed clinical work in various settings in Honduras, Mexico, and Ecuador, including serving as a volunteer for the Mennonite Central Committee in rural Mexico.

In addition to performing research in Nicaragua, Dr. Becker-Dreps, along with her family and North Carolina community, help to support the Proyecto Barrilete in León. Barrilete is a preschool and afterschool program for low-income children and those who come from disrupted families. Barrilete’s main goal is to help all children complete high school, and then provides links to the local university and technical schools.