Caregivers at Carolina program announces second class of award recipients

The UNC Caregivers at Carolina: Support for Physician Scientists Program announces its second group of scholars and extended support for two initial recipients.

The Caregivers at Carolina Program, funded by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, provides support to physician scientists who are facing substantial caregiving demands at home. Caregivers at Carolina was launched in 2016 and is led by Susan Girdler, PhD, and Amelia Drake, MD. The program’s goal is to support and retain physician scientists in research who are facing substantial caregiving demands at home.

This year, the program is providing extended support for its two initial recipients, and funding for a group of four additional faculty members. In addition to funding, the program is meant to facilitate professional development and networking opportunities for all early career physician scientists facing substantial caregiving demands. In fact, two of this year’s honorees met last year at a Caregivers at Carolina networking lunch and formed a research collaboration.

This year’s funding recipients:


Sylvia Becker-Dreps, MD, MPH, Department of Family Medicine

Becker-Dreps is one of the inaugural Caregivers at Carolina funding recipients. Her funding is being extended to a second year. She currently studies the effectiveness of rotavirus and pneumococcal vaccines in Nicaragua, one of the first developing nations to introduce these vaccines to prevent childhood diarrhea and pneumonia.  In particular, she is interested in the effect of the immunization programs on the community level, using population-based surveillance.


Leeza Park, MD, Department of Psychiatry

Park is one of the inaugural Caregivers at Carolina funding recipients. Her funding is being extended to a second year. Park focuses on the intersection of psychiatry, palliative medicine and oncology and specifically, how advanced cancer in patients with dependent children influences parental end-of-life and mental health outcomes and bereavement in their families.  She has conducted research examining psychological distress in parents with advanced cancer, depression in bereaved caregivers, and pharmacologic treatment of depression in patients with cancer.


Natalie Bowman, MD, MPH, Department of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases

Bowman’s research focuses on HIV and parasitic co-infections in Latin America, with a particular focus on opportunistic infections that affect the central nervous system such as toxoplasmosis and Chagas disease. She is broadly interested in the epidemiology and pathogenesis of parasites and neglected tropical diseases, especially those that are prevalent in the Americas.


R. Matthew Coward, MD, Department of Urology

Coward’s research interests include hypogonadism, male infertility, vasectomy and vasectomy reversal, penile prostheses, and urologic imaging. At UNC Fertility, he is a co-investigator with the Reproductive Medicine Network, an NIH-funded group of centers of excellence that carries out multi-centered clinical trials of male and female infertility.


Julia Sung, MD, Department of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases

Sung’s work currently focuses on means of measuring and enhancing immune responses to HIV-infected cells as they emerge from latency in individuals who have been maintained on suppressive ART. Her particular interest is in optimizing and standardizing assays to detect such an enhancement, and elucidating the mechanisms underlying an effective anti-latency immune response.


Jennifer Goralski, MD, Department of Pulmonary/Critical Care Medicine, Division of Pediatric Pulmonology

Goralski’s research interests include exploring novel imaging outcome markers for Cystic Fibrosis, including fluorine-enhanced MRI and chest tomosynthesis. She is active in many clinical research studies through the CF Therapeutics and Development Network, and works with the Quality Improvement and CF Transition groups while caring for for patients in both the adult and pediatric CF clinics as well as in the medical ICU. 

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