Couple Unites to Improve Health in Africa

Serving for two years in Iraq with the U.S. military exposed Ross Boyce to healthcare in a resource-limited setting. A desire to level the playing field prompted him to attend medical school at UNC. He then traveled to Uganda and was struck by the devastating effects of malaria on children in Bugoye, a small village in the western region of the country.
Also working in Bugoye was Raquel Reyes. After earning a degree in health policy from Harvard University, Reyes spent time with migrant workers and Southeast Asian refugees in California. The experience convinced her of the impact she could make as a clinician. She returned to Harvard for medical school. After completing her residency, she became the Uganda Site Director for the Massachusetts General Hospital Residency Program. The position showed her how where you live influences how well you fare when you are diagnosed with a non-communicable disease like cancer, heart disease or diabetes.

Reyes and Boyce met in Uganda. Their mutual interest in improving global health sparked a friendship that eventually led to marriage and a family. Now both at UNC, Boyce is an infectious diseases fellow and Reyes is an assistant professor of hospital medicine. Being married to someone who understands the demands of a clinician-researcher makes finding a work-life balance easier.

For now, the two travel separately. Thanks to a tussle with an aggressive mosquito, Boyce has launched the first study in Uganda to quantify the prevalence of other mosquito-borne viruses, like dengue.
In the fall of 2016, the UNC School of Medicine named Reyes a Simmons Scholar. The program provides three to five years of salary support and will allow Reyes to investigate the rates of non-communicable diseases in Malawi by working with colleagues at UNC Project-Malawi. She hopes to prevent the life-changing impacts of non-communicable diseases on families in Africa.

Reyes is interested in connecting with other clinicians or researchers in the Triangle who are interested in or have experience with treating non-communicable diseases in developing countries. She can be reached at

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