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 who are well qualified to direct clinical and public health microbiology laboratories. When the fellows complete his/her training, he/she should have broad-based knowledge in the field of clinical microbiology and should be developing expertise in diagnostics, laboratory administration, and research. We want to train individuals who will be leaders in the field of diagnostic microbiology with an ultimate commitment to improvement of patient care. The program began in 1976 and 33 fellows from throughout the United States, Mexico, Malawi, Germany, and Thailand have completed the program. Of these 33 graduates, 18 are diplomates of the American Board of Medical Microbiology. Many currently hold leadership roles in the field of clinical microbiology both in academia as well as government service. Program graduates serve on the editorial board of several journals including the Journal of Clinical Microbiology, Clinical Microbiology Reviews, and Diagnostic Microbiology and Infectious Diseases. Program graduates are also editors or past editors of the Journal of Clinical Microbiology, Clinical Microbiology Reviews, mBio, 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 Diseases, Long’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.

Facilities: The Clinical Microbiology Laboratory of the University of North Carolina Hospitals is where the fellows will do the bulk 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 fellows are provided their own office on site.

Institution: 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 Clinical Laboratory Science, Molecular Diagnostics, 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 and Microbiology-Immunology. 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 may freely use the Health Affairs Library which is located adjacent to the hospital. The fellows have free access to electronic journals and have their own computer work station in the fellows’ office. 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 there.

Training: The program will be flexible to insure 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-call responsibilities. On-call responsibilities require that the fellow be able to perform specialized procedures which may be needed on a stat basis or advise physicians on the use of laboratory resources to establish a specific diagnosis. 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 on problems dealing with each section.

During the first year of training the fellow along with the clinical pathology residents meet 3 to 4 times weekly for ~1 hour didactic sessions with the faculty. 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 bench training by the technologists and supervisors as well as didactic instruction from program faculty to insure 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 he/she rotates. The rotation timeline is given below and 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

24 weeks

Parasitology
(combined with mycobacteriology & mycology)

12 weeks

Mycobacteriology
(combined with parasitology & mycology)

12 weeks

Mycology
(combined with parasitology & mycobacteriology)

12 weeks

Immunology

4 weeks

Molecular Microbiology (includes virology training)

8 weeks

Infection Prevention/Hospital Epidemiology

2 weeks

Clinical Infectious Diseases

4 weeks

Public Health

4 weeks

 

The majority of the technical training will occur during the first year of fellowship. After the technical training is completed, the fellow will be expected to begin to assume significant administrative and consultative responsibilities in the laboratory. In addition to on-call responsibilities, the fellow will be expected to lead laboratory discussions and provide didactic teaching for the Infectious Diseases Consultation Teams. He/She is 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 his/her technical training. These include a weekly Adult Infectious Diseases Conference (Wednesday, 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 and may also supply images for the presenting fellow.

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 most 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.

The Department also sponsors a molecular pathology course every other year. The fellows are expected to attend selected lectures as assigned by the Program Director. If the fellow has completed his/her rotation in Molecular Microbiology, he/she will present the Molecular Microbiology Workshop given during this course.

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 all mock CAP 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 bi-weekly management meeting. The fellow is also expected to attend the monthly McLendon Clinical Laboratories Management Conference. S/he 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. S/he 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.

Research: All fellows are expected to perform research. Research opportunities are made available to the fellow upon entering the program. The fellow should learn to integrate research into his/her other commitments. Research can be applied, clinical, or basic. 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 external rotation is scheduled during the second year of fellowship, a four-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. Previous fellows have rotated at WakeMed Hospital in Raleigh and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. Our program also presents the opportunity to work in the UNC Center for Infectious Disease Laboratory at Lilongwe Central Hospital in Lilongwe, Malawi, and the Diagnostic Microbiology Development Program in Phnom Phenh, Cambodia. Round trip airfare to the Malawi and Cambodia sites will be provided.

Program Graduates 1987 to 2018:

Richard Schwalbe, PhD Deceased; formerly Director, Microbiology Laboratory, Univ. of Maryland Hospital
Arturo Lisker, MD Infectious Disease Specialist, Mexico City
Richard Hodinka, PhD Clinical Professor and Chair, Department of Basic Medical Science,
Univ. of South Carolina–Greenville School of Medicine
Margaret Johnson, MD LabCorp, Research Triangle Park, NC
Mary George, PhD* Chief, Microbiology Laboratory, Albany VA Hospital
William Kelly, MD Pathologist, Onslow Medical Center, Jacksonville, NC
P. Susan Whittier, PhD* Microbiologist, Columbia-Presbyterian Hospital, New York, NY
Daniel S. Shapiro, MD Infection Prevention, Antimicrobial Stewardship and Infectious Diseases, St Louis Univeristy School of Medicine, St Louis, MO
Jace Hougland, PhD unknown
Ute Schwab, PhD Research Scientist, Cornell University School of Veterinary Medicine, Ithaca, NY
Holli Hamilton, MD Director Clinical Research, DMID, NIH, Bethesda, MD
Deanna Kiska, PhD* President, U.S. Micro-Solutions, Inc. , Greenburg, PA
Scott Riddell PhD* Director, Microbiology Laboratory, SUNY-Upstate Medical Center, Syracuse
Lawal Garba MBBS Private Practice, Charlotte, NC
David W. Craft PhD* Microbiology Laboratory Director, Hershey Medical Center;
Acting Chair, Department of Pathology, Hershey, PA
Charles Jere, MBBS Private Practice, Wilson, NC
David Heath, PhD Retired; formerly at USAMRIID, Fredericksburg, MD
Melissa B. Miller, PhD* Associate Director, Clinical Microbiology–Immunology Laboratories, UNC Health Care
Jennifer S. Goodrich, PhD Deputy Director, National Biodefense Analysis and Countermeasures Center, Frederick, MD
Mwai Makoka, MBBS Executive Director, Christian Health Association of Malawi (CHAM)
Karissa Culbreath, PhD* Scientific Director, Infectious Disease Lab, TriCore Laboratories, Albuquerque, NM
Edward Ager, PhD* Chief Microbiologist, Brooks Army Medical Center, San Antonio, TX
Kevin Alby, PhD* Director, Clinical Microbiology Laboratory, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania
Anthony Tran, DrPH* Director, Washington DC Public Health Laboratory
RongPong Plongla MD, MDc* Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Chulalongkorn University Bangkok, Thailand
Kara Levinson, PhD Fellow, CDC Laboratory Leadership Service, New Hampshire Public Health Laboratory
 * Diplomate, American Board of Medical Microbiology

 

Professional Staff of Training Program:

Melissa B. Miller, PhD (Program Director) — Associate Director, Clinical Microbiology Laboratory and Director, Clinical Molecular Microbiology Laboratory,  UNC Health Care; Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, UNC School of Medicine, Chapel Hill, NC; and Diplomate, American Board of Medical Microbiology.

Peter H. Gilligan, PhD (Program Director) — Director, Clinical Microbiology Laboratory, UNC Health Care; Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine and of Microbiology–Immunology, UNC School of Medicine, Chapel Hill, NC; and Diplomate, American Board of Medical Microbiology.

John Schmitz, PhD — Director, Clinical Immunology Laboratory, UNC Health Care; 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 Health Care; 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.

Scott Zimmerman, DrPH — Director, State Laboratory of Public Health, Raleigh, NC.

Denise Pettit, PhD — Assistant Director, Technical Services, State Laboratory of Public Health, Raleigh, NC.

Myron Cohen, MD — Chief, Infectious Diseases Division, Department of Medicine; Director, Centers for Infectious Diseases; and Professor of Medicine and Microbiology–Immunology, UNC School of Medicine, Chapel Hill, NC.

Program Director: Melissa B. Miller, PhD

Applications: We are not currently accepting applications. Applications will open in early 2019 for a July 2020 position. Electronic applications can be found at http://www.asm.org/index.php/cpep-application/view/form.

The following material should only be submitted if you are contacted by us to come for an interview.

  1. A completed UNC Hospitals Residency application form.
  2. Proof of receipt of a doctoral level degree. Acceptable degrees include Ph.D., M.D., M.B.B.S., D.D.S., Sc.D., D.V.M., 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.
  5. Your curriculum vitae.

Applications from US citizens and permanent residents (green-card holders) are given preference. Foreign applicants may be considered if they have support from their national government or a non-governmental organization.


For additional information, please contact…

Janice Badstein
McLendon Clinical Labs
UNC Hospitals
101 Manning Drive
1106 East Wing
Chapel Hill, NC 27514

Telephone: 984-974-1504

Fax: 984-974-1675