Melissa Miller, PhD, Director of the Clinical Microbiology and Molecular Microbiology Laboratories at the UNC Medical Center, has been a national leader on the issue of COVID-19 laboratory testing since the earliest days of the pandemic.


Melissa Miller, PhD, Director of the Clinical Microbiology and Molecular Microbiology Laboratories at the UNC Medical Center and professor in the UNC Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at the UNC School of Medicine, has been recognized by the American Society for Microbiology with the ASM Award for Research and Leadership in Clinical Microbiology.

This award recognizes an outstanding scientist/clinical microbiologist with distinguished research achievements and a record of innovation and advancement of the clinical microbiology profession. This award represents the merging of the BD Research and Sonnenwirth Awards given annually since 1978 and 1986, respectively.

Dr. Miller has been a leader and strong voice for the national community of microbiology researchers and professionals for many years, including during the COVID-19 pandemic. In February, she led the development of a PCR lab test for COVID-19 so that UNC Health was able to quickly and accurately test inpatients and people who came to the Respiratory Diagnostic Center in Chapel Hill. She worked tirelessly alongside her dedicated staff throughout the spring and summer to be sure UNC Health had adequate supplies and so her lab could increase testing capabilities for UNC Health as needed. Her lab now has the capacity to conduct 2500 COVID-19 tests daily. She has collaborated with many colleagues across the country and in the state of North Carolina to be sure testing was completed as quickly and accurately as possible.

Dr. Miller has been a featured expert in many media outlets since the start of the pandemic, related to testing and supply chain issues facing labs around the world.

The 2021 American Society for Microbiology (ASM) Awards program is managed by the American Academy of Microbiology, the honorific leadership group within ASM. The mission of the Academy is to recognize microbiologists for outstanding contributions to the microbial sciences and to provide microbiological expertise in the service of science and the public.