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The Postdoctoral Training Program in Medical and Public Health Microbiology at UNC Hospitals

Program Description

The major objective of the training program in Medical and Public Health Laboratory Microbiology at University of North Carolina Hospitals is to train individuals to become well qualified to direct clinical and public health microbiology laboratories. When the fellows complete their training, they should have broad knowledge in the field of clinical and diagnostic microbiology and should be developing expertise in laboratory administration and clinical research. We want to train individuals who will be leaders in clinical microbiology with an ultimate commitment to improvement of patient care. The program began in 1976 and fellows from throughout the United States, Mexico, Malawi, Germany and Thailand have completed the program. The majority of graduates are diplomates of the American Board of Medical Microbiology (see list below). Many currently hold leadership roles in the field of clinical microbiology in both academia and government service. Program graduates serve on the editorial board of several journals including the Journal of Clinical MicrobiologyClinical Microbiology Reviews and Diagnostic Microbiology and Infectious Diseases. Program graduates are also editors or past editors of the Journal of Clinical MicrobiologyClinical Microbiology ReviewsmBio and Clinical and Vaccine Immunology. Program graduates are authors of chapters in the Manual of Clinical Microbiology  and Handbook of Clinical Microbiology, as well as Mandell’s Principles and Practice of Infectious DiseasesLong’s Principles and Practice of Pediatric Infectious Disease, section editor of the Manual of Clinical Microbiology, the senior editor of Manual of Clinical Virology and authors of Cases in Medical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases.


The Clinical Microbiology Laboratory of the University of North Carolina Hospitals (UNCH) is where the fellows will do the majority of their training. Combined, the microbiology, molecular microbiology, and immunology/serology laboratories occupy approximately 5,500 square feet, are centrally located on the first floor of UNCH, and are in close proximity to other clinical laboratories, the in-patient population, clinics, pharmacy, radiographic and anatomical pathology diagnostic services. In 2017, we installed total laboratory automation in bacteriology, and we continue to grow our robust molecular diagnostic capabilities. We emphasize the use of both molecular and proteomic (MALDI-TOF MS) techniques in the detection of microorganisms and their antimicrobial resistance mechanisms.


The UNC Hospitals have more than 900 beds and are the primary teaching hospitals for the University of North Carolina School of Medicine. There are five on-campus hospitals, the Memorial Hospital (opened in 1952), Neurosciences Hospital (opened in 1995), the Women’s Hospital (opened in 2001), the Children’s Hospital (opened in 2001), and the Cancer Hospital (opened in 2009). UNC Health Care is actively growing with affiliated hospitals throughout the State of North Carolina for which our laboratory provides either primary or reference laboratory services ( The laboratory supports training programs in  Medical and Public Health Microbiology, Medical Laboratory Science,  Clinical Pathology and Clinical Laboratory Immunology. Three adult infectious disease consult teams begin their rounds each day in our laboratory which allows for significant and purposeful interaction with this service. In addition, the laboratory has an open door policy which encourages medical students, residents, fellows, and attending physicians to freely use the laboratory facilities and personnel to assist them in evaluating their patients. The laboratory directors hold academic appointments in the Departments of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine. The fellows work closely with clinical pathology residents, who will assist them in learning about the histopathologic diagnosis of infectious diseases. In addition, other faculty in the School of Medicine actively participate in the training of the fellows in clinical microbiology. The fellows have free access to electronic journals and are provided a computer and desk space on site. The internationally recognized UNC School of Public Health is located across the street from the UNC Hospitals. The fellows are encouraged to attend conferences and seminars of interest throughout the Schools of Medicine and Public Health.


The program will be flexible to ensure complete education of the fellow. Bench training is gained by spending time in each laboratory section with the technical staff. As the fellow’s experiences and base of knowledge increases, the fellows are asked to assume more responsibilities in the section. This includes on-service (alternating weeks 8am – 5pm) and on-call responsibilities. Upon completion of the fellow’s training in a laboratory section, the fellow’s competency is assessed by both the training staff and program faculty to determine that the fellow is able to conduct all but the most specialized tests in that section as well as to be able to advise the clinical staff.


During the first year of training, the fellow meets routinely with faculty for didactic and case-based discussions. Work rounds are conducted daily with the fellow, residents, supervisors and directors. Work rounds involve technical/scientific or managerial problem solving. The fellow has full access to the program faculty and often consults with them on a daily basis regarding clinical issues and questions encountered during their training.

Technical Training

Training in each of the laboratory’s section will consist of technical training by the medical laboratory scientists  as well as didactic instruction from program faculty to ensure that the fellow is technically proficient at performing laboratory procedures offered in each laboratory section. Importantly, this training will enable the fellow to interpret the clinical significance of laboratory results. The fellow must also be well versed in specific safety and quality assurance issues in laboratory section through which they rotate. The rotation timeline below serves as a guideline. Actual rotation schedules may be somewhat modified depending upon the level of experience of the fellow.

Laboratory Length of Study
Bacteriology (including specimen processing) 24 weeks
(combined with mycobacteriology & mycology)
12 weeks
(combined with parasitology & mycology)
12 weeks
(combined with parasitology & mycobacteriology)
12 weeks
Infectious disease serology 2 weeks
Molecular Microbiology (includes virology training) 12 weeks
Infection Prevention/Hospital Epidemiology 1-2 weeks
Clinical Infectious Diseases 4 weeks
Public Health (NC SLPH, Raleigh, NC) 2-4 weeks


The majority of the technical training will occur during the first year of fellowship. As technical training is completed, the fellow will be expected to begin to assume significant administrative and consultative responsibilities. In addition to on-service/on-call responsibilities, the fellow will be expected to lead laboratory discussions and provide didactic teaching for the Infectious Diseases Consultation Teams. They are also encouraged to act as a resource for other trainees in the medical center.


Several clinical conferences are available to the fellow to supplement and expand their technical training. These include a weekly Adult Infectious Diseases Conference (Friday, 8:00–9:00 AM) and Pediatric Infectious Diseases Conference (Wednesday, 1:30–2:30 PM) in which the management of clinical cases are discussed. Fellows may present pertinent laboratory findings at these conferences.


The Department of Hospital Laboratories sponsors two educational conferences. Clinical Pathology Conference, in which a pathology resident or hospital laboratories fellow (including the Microbiology fellow) presents an instructive sub-specialty clinical pathology lecture (Chemistry, Blood Bank, Hematology, Coagulation, and Microbiology) and Molecular Pathology Case Conference in which the fellow is expected to present one case/year. In addition, the fellow will present annually at the Molecular Journal Club.


The Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine has Grand Rounds Thursdays from 8:30–9:30 AM. The fellow is encouraged to attend conferences of interest. The fellows are also encouraged to attend grand rounds and seminars in other departments (Pediatrics, Microbiology-Immunology, School of Public Health, Division of Infectious Diseases) when the topics are appropriate to their training needs.


In addition to intramural educational opportunities, the fellows also participate in the biannual meeting of the NC Laboratory Response group that brings together microbiology laboratory directors from the state’s major medical centers and the regional and state public health labs to discuss infectious disease/clinical microbiology topics of public health significance.


The fellows are provided with funds to yearly attend one national meeting such as the annual meeting of the American Society for Microbiology or the Clinical Virology Symposium. The fellow is also encouraged to attend meetings of our regional microbiology organizations, the North Carolina branch of ASM and SEACM.

Administrative Training

The fellow will be expected to become well versed in various aspects of laboratory management and administration. The McLendon Clinical Laboratories faculty offers an intensive course on laboratory management once during the fellow’s two years of training. This course will include learning basic principles of management and specific aspects of budgeting, personnel hiring and evaluation; principles of quality control, quality assurance (including test utilization) and continuous quality improvement; new test implementation and cost analysis; protocol preparation, safety regulations, and CLIA and OSHA requirements. The fellow also participates as an inspector in our CAP self-inspection and may accompany a CAP inspection team if the opportunity exists. The fellow will become knowledgeable about both the state and federal select agent rules. The fellow participates in the preparation of the annual budget and attends the monthly management meeting. The fellow is also expected to attend the monthly McLendon Clinical Laboratories Management Conference. They will also be given the opportunity to prepare quality assurance reports, cost analysis worksheets and verification summaries and protocols for new procedures. In addition, the fellow will conduct at least one root-cause analysis and one risk assessment during the fellowship.

Clinical Training

Clinical training is an on-going process in our program. The fellow is expected to participate in the laboratory portion of daily Infectious Disease rounds. They will be responsible for teaching basic principles of clinical microbiology to the ID team during the second year of training. In addition, during the second year, the fellow will spend one month with the adult and pediatric Infectious Diseases services and function as a member of those teams.


All fellows are expected to perform clinical research. Research opportunities are made available to the fellow upon entering the program. The fellow should learn to integrate research into their other commitments. Research opportunities are available with the program faculty as well as other University of North Carolina School of Medicine faculty. It is understood that the fellow’s primary responsibility in the first year is to become technically proficient in each laboratory area and that the major time commitment and effort of the fellow is to training. During the second year, a three to six month block of time will be made available for the fellow to pursue various research interests. It is expected that this research will be presented at national meetings, and publications in refereed journals are also expected.

External Rotation

One required external rotation is scheduled during the second year of fellowship, a 2-4 week rotation at the NC State Laboratory of Public Health. This rotation will include training for detection of agents of bioterrorism. Additional external rotations at other laboratories are at the discretion of the Program Director and fellow (examples: WakeMed Hospital in Raleigh and Atrium Health in Charlotte). Previous fellows have also rotated at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta and the UNC Center for Infectious Disease Laboratory at Lilongwe Central Hospital in Malawi.

Program Graduates (since 1987)

Arturo Lisker, MD (1987) Infectious Disease Specialist, Mexico City, Mexico
Richard Hodinka, PhD (1988) Retired; formerly U South Carolina School of Medicine and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
Margaret Johnson, MD (1989) LabCorp, Research Triangle Park, NC
Mary George, PhD* (1989) Director of Microbiology Laboratory, Albany Medical Center, Albany, NY
William Kelly, MD (1991) Pathologist, Onslow Memorial Hospital, Jacksonville, NC
P. Susan Whittier, PhD* (1992) Retired; formerly Columbia-Presbyterian Hospital, New York, NY
Daniel S. Shapiro, MD (1992) Infectious Disease and Internal Medicine, Tower Health Medical Group, West Reading, PA
Jace Hougland, PhD (1993) unknown
Ute Schwab, PhD (1994) Research Scientist, Cornell University School of Veterinary Medicine, Ithaca, NY
Holli Hamilton, MD (1994) Senior Medical Officer, Division of Extramural Research, National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, Bethesda, MD
Deanna Kiska, PhD* (1995) President, U.S. Micro-Solutions, Inc., Latrobe, PA
Scott Riddell PhD* (1997) Director, Microbiology Laboratory, SUNY-Upstate Medical Center, Syracuse, NY
Lawal Garba MBBS unknown
David W. Craft PhD* (1999) Retired; formerly Microbiology Laboratory Director, Hershey Medical Center;
Acting Chair, Department of Pathology, Hershey, PA
Charles Jere, MBBS Private Practice, Rocky Mount, NC
David Heath, PhD (2001) Retired; formerly at USAMRIID, Fredericksburg, MD
Melissa B. Miller, PhD* (2004) Director, Clinical Microbiology and Molecular Microbiology Laboratories, UNC Medical Center, Chapel Hill, NC
Jennifer S. Goodrich, PhD (2007) Director, National Bioforensic Analysis Center, Frederick, MD
Mwai Makoka, MBBS (2007) Programme Executive for Health and Healing, World Council of Churches, Geneva, Switzerland
Karissa Culbreath, PhD* (2010) Medical Director, Infectious Disease Division Chief, TriCore Laboratories; Associate Professor, University of New Mexico School of Medicine, Albuquerque, NM
Edward Ager, PhD* (2011) Deputy Chief, Department of Clinical Investigations, Brooke Army Medical Center, San Antonio, TX
Kevin Alby, PhD* (2013) Associate Director, Clinical Microbiology Laboratory and Director, Bacteriology/AST, UNC Medical Center, Chapel Hill, NC
Anthony Tran, DrPH* (2015) Director, California Public Health Laboratory, San Francisco, CA
RongPong Plongla MD, MDc* (2016) Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Chulalongkorn University Bangkok, Thailand
Kara Levinson, PhD* (2018) Director, Tennessee State Public Health Laboratory, Nashville, TN
Sheila Johnson, PhD* (2019) Product Manager, USAMMDA – U.S. Army Medical Material Development Activity
Cecilia Thompson, PhD* (2020) Director, Clinical Microbiology, Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago
Assistant Professor, Northwestern University, Chicago, IL
Jason Smedberg, PhD* (2021) Chief, Infectious Disease Laboratory, Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Germany (U.S. Army)
Samantha Giffen, PhD* (2023) Microbiologist, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA
 * Diplomate, American Board of Medical Microbiology

Professional Staff of Training Program

  • Melissa B. Miller, PhD  (Program Director) — Director, Clinical Microbiology and Molecular Microbiology Laboratories, UNC Medical Center; Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, UNC School of Medicine, Chapel Hill, NC; and Diplomate, American Board of Medical Microbiology.
  • Kevin Alby, PhD — Associate Director, Clinical Microbiology Laboratory; Director, Bacteriology and Antimicrobial Susceptibility Testing; Assistant Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, UNC School of Medicine; and Diplomate, American Board of Medical Microbiology.
  • John Schmitz, PhD — Director, Clinical Immunology Laboratory, UNC Medical Center; Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine and of Microbiology–Immunology, UNC School of Medicine, Chapel Hill, NC; and Diplomate, American Board of Medical Laboratory Immunology.
  • Eric Weimer, PhD — Associate Director of Clinical Immunology Laboratory, UNC Medical Center; Assistant Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, UNC School of Medicine, Chapel Hill, NC; and Diplomate, American Board of Medical Laboratory Immunology.
  • David Weber, MD, MPH — Medical Director of Hospital Epidemiology and Infection Control, UNC Health Care; Professor of Medicine (Infectious Diseases), UNC School of Medicine, Chapel Hill, NC.
  • Emily Sickbert-Bennett, PhD, MS — Director, Hospital Epidemiology and Occupational Health Services, UNC Health Care; Associate Professor of Medicine (Infectious Diseases), UNC School of Medicine; Adjunct Associate Professor of Epidemiology, Gillings School of Public Health, Chapel Hill, NC.
  • William A. Glover II, Ph.D. — Assistant Director, Infectious Diseases, Division of Public Health, State Laboratory of Public Health, Raleigh, NC.
  • Scott Shone, PhD – Director, NC State Laboratory of Public Health, Raleigh, NC.

Program Director

Melissa B. Miller, PhD


One Fellowship position is available every year for the two-year program. The application period opens July 1 and closes August 31. The electronic application can be found at Please upload your CV in the online application. The following materials should only be submitted if you are contacted by us for an interview.

  1. A completed UNC Hospitals Residency application form.
  2. Proof of receipt of doctoral level degree. Acceptable degrees include Ph.D., M.D., Sc.D., D.O., and Dr.P.H. An official transcript from the school granting your degree is usually sufficient.
  3. Three letters of recommendation.
  4. A one-page statement of why you want to participate in this training program.

For additional information, please contact…

Janice Badstein
Department of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine
University of North Carolina School of Medicine
Campus Box 7525
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7525

Phone:  (919) 966-4678