Office of International Activities announces Global Health Scholars

The UNC School of Medicine's Office of International Activities recently announced six new Global Health Scholars. The program, sponsored through the Office of International Activities, provides funding support for resident physicians who display a strong interest in global health.

The Global Scholars will spend up to eight weeks abroad, working on an international health project of their choosing. This year’s class will work on projects that range from efforts to address pediatric asthma in Nicaragua to dengue in Sri Lanka, to educating community health workers in India.

In addition to their international work, Global Health Scholars are expected to participate in international educational experiences in Chapel Hill so that others in the SOM community may benefit from the knowledge gained during their experiences.

Read more about this year’s scholars:

Mary Currie:

Mary Currie, MD, MPH, is a second year fellow in Pediatric Pulmonology. As a part of the Global Health Scholars program, Currie is developing a project in Managua, Nicaragua that is designed to train community health workers to identify and refer children with asthma.

Currie’s interest in global health began as an undergraduate at Florida State University, where she volunteered with health workers in rural Jamaican communities.

In addition to her MD, Currie has also earned a Master’s in Public Health with a focus on public health planning and evaluation from UNC’s Gillings School of Public Health.

Locally, she is working with the Orange County Health Department to evaluate an asthma home visit program that aims to address environmental triggers for children with asthma.

In her free time, Currie enjoys spending time with her fiancée, backpacking , running, and enjoying the Triangle’s great restaurants.

Ross Boyce:

Ross Boyce, MD, is a first year fellow in the Division of Infectious Diseases.

A native of Clemmons, NC, Boyce graduated from Davidson College. Upon graduation, he commissioned as an Infantry Officer in the United States Army, eventually rising to the rank of Captain. While enlisted, Boyce completed two deployments to Iraq. For his service, Boyce was awarded three Bronze Star Medals, including one with a valor device for heroism in combat.

Upon leaving the military, Boyce enrolled in the UNC School of Medicine. Between his third and forth years of medical school, he completed an M.Sc. in Public Health from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. His thesis work focused on the control of dengue vectors.

During his residency at Massachusetts General Hospital, Boyce was part of a team that established an active malaria research program in Western Uganda.

He plans to use the support of the Global Health Scholars Program to continue his work on the epidemiology of vector-borne diseases in East Africa.

Nadeem Modan

Nadeem Modan, MD, is a first year resident in Emergency Medicine. He completed his medical school training at Dartmouth Medical School and his undergraduate studies at Wesleyan University.

Modan is passionate about social justice and over the past decade has worked on many sustainable community service projects focused on diverse issues including hunger, literacy, economic development, and health care access, both in the United States and India.

Modan will use the Global Health Scholars Program funding to increase access to health care in villages across India.

Serena Zhou-Talbert

Serena Zhou-Talbert, MD, MPH, is a first year resident in the Department of Family Medicine. Originally from China, Zhou-Talbert completed her undergraduate studies at Johns Hopkins University. Following her time in Baltimore, she spent 13 months in Ecuador, working as a program director for Manna Project International. Upon returning to the United States, Zhou-Talbert completed her MPH at the University of Southern California and her MD at Michigan State University. Her broad interests include global public health, women’s health, and racial health disparities. She will use her Global Health Scholars funding to travel to Nicaragua to help increase family planning resources.

Matthew Collins

Matthew Collins, MD, PhD, is a fellow in the Division of Infectious Diseases working in the de Silva Lab.

A native of South Carolina, Collins received his MD from the Medical College of Georgia and completed his PhD research at the University of Georgia.

Since arriving at UNC, Collins’ work in the de Silva lab has allowed him to gain incredible experience in molecular virology while further developing his interests in global health, tropical and emerging infections, and immunologic aspects of host-pathogen interactions.

He will use the support of the Global Health Scholars program to further these interests, traveling to Sri Lanka and Nicaragua to study dengue fever.

Sonya Patel-Nguyen

Sonya Patel-Nguyen, MD, is a graduate of the UNC School of Medicine and currently completing her internal medicine residency at UNC Hospitals.

During medical school, Patel-Nguyen took a year off to pursue research and non-profit advocacy work with the Palestinian Cleft Society in the West Bank. She graduated from UNC SOM as a member of the inaugural member of the Gold Humanism Honor Society.

During residency, Patel-Nguyen has continued to pursue global health topics and electives, having traveled recently to India as a Sanders Scholar with Project Hope. Her interests lie in the intersection of health and human rights, especially in refugee and immigrant populations. She plans to pursue some combination of inpatient medicine, critical care, and global health in the future.

Her Global Health Scholars work will be with refugees, both in the United States and their home countries.


In addition to the Global Health Scholars Program, the Department of Family Medicine offers an Area of Concentration in Global Health to residents. The program is meant to provide elective opportunities to integrate global health into family medicine training. This year’s class:

  • Krishna Aluri
  • Robert Campbell
  • Katherine Despotes
  • Neil Shah
  • Gregory Means
  • Zachary Smith
Filed under: