NRSA Primary Care Research Fellowship

Director: Donald E. Pathman, MD, MPH
Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Fellowship Overview

The fellowship‘s goal is to train primary care physicians for academic careers that emphasize research. The two-to three-year fellowship provides participants with the knowledge, skills and experience to pursue an individual research program. Fellows establish a research foundation through course work in the various departments of UNC’s Gillings School of Global Public Health and seminars in the School of Medicine’s NC TraCS Translational and Clinical Research Curriculum, and reinforced through fellows’ research projects, weekly works-in-progress seminars, and mentoring by clinical and research faculty.

Fellows enter the program directly from residency training, community practice, or faculty positions. Over the program’s 27 years, it has graduated approximately 70 fellows. Graduates have gone on to establish excellent publication records and achieve success in obtaining research funding, including career development awards. The vast majority currently hold academic positions.

During the fellowship, participants complete four to seven research projects, working closely with a variety of faculty from across UNC’s health sciences schools and other schools on campus. Mentoring plays a key role in fellows’ development.

Fellows’ research generally falls within one or more of the following areas of research excellence and opportunity on campus:

Minority Health & Disparities

Community Interventions

Access to Care, Health Workforce and Rural Health

Health Literacy

Quality Improvement and Patient Safety

Diet, Obesity and Cardiovascular Disease Risks

Evidence-Based Medicine, Decision Sciences, Prevention and Screening

New Models of Primary Care Delivery


The fellowship is based in the Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research, a large, multi-disciplinary research unit on campus.

The program is principally funded through an institutional “T32” (5 T32 14001) National Research Service Award grant through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). UNC’s primary care clinical departments and divisions provide additional funding.