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As MD-PhD students, we will face the challenges experienced by both women and minority MDs and PhDs, and we would like to know how to best prepare to succeed in a career in science. To achieve insight into our future challenges and how to overcome them, we have assembled a diverse team of faculty mentors that are successful scientists who are interested in providing advice and guidance to MD-PhD students.


Current faculty advisors:

Michelle Hernandez, MD, Associate Professor of Pediatrics, Associate Director of Clinical Research, Children’s Research Institute

Dr. Hernandez received her MD at UNC School of Medicine and completed her Pediatrics residency at UNC. She completed her Allergy/Immunology fellowship at the University of California San Diego in 2007, where her research was focused on murine models of otitis media and the role of toll-like receptors. She returned to NC as an assistant professor in 2007 and transitioned from mouse models to translational research in asthma. She is passionate about supporting and recruiting women and minority physician-scientists.  As a resident physician, Dr. Hernandez was awarded the Wake Medical Center Resident of the Year Award and the UNC Hospitals Housestaff Officer of the Year Award.  As faculty, she has received the Excellence in Teaching & Mentoring of Fellows Award by the Department of Pediatrics, and is recognized as one of the “Best Doctors in America”.


Melissa Troester, PhD, Associate Professor in Epidemiology

Dr. Troester received her MPH and PhD at UNC. Her laboratory studies breast cancer and benign breast disease using genomic, molecular pathology, and epidemiologic approaches. Much of Dr. Troester’s research focus has been on understanding interactions between the environment and breast genomics. She has been recognized for her advocacy of women in research with multiple awards.


Former faculty advisor:

Susan Henning, PhD, Professor in Medicine

Dr. Henning came to UNC in 2007 from Baylor College of Medicine, where she developed a program linking clinicians with basic scientists to improve overall research at that institution.  She continues to facilitate these interactions at UNC, where she is heavily involved in the TraCS K-Award program. Her research focuses on the isolation and characterization of intestinal stem cells, and she recently received the AGA Distinguished Mentor Award! Although she retired in fall 2019, Dr. Henning is still active in the gastrointestinal research community and continues to provide invaluable support to our group!