M. Patricia Rivera

MD, School of Medicine, UNC-Chapel Hill, Clinical Research, Thoracic Oncology Program

MD, ATSF, FCCP
School of Medicine
UNC-Chapel Hill
Clinical Research
Thoracic Oncology Program

Area of Interest

M. Patricia Rivera, MD, ATSF, FCCP, is a Professor of Medicine in the Division of Pulmonary Diseases and Critical Care Medicine at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She joined the faculty at UNC in 1995 and co-founded the first Multidisciplinary Thoracic Oncology Program in the country, a premier program that became the model for multidisciplinary care and defined the vital role pulmonologists play in the care of patients with thoracic malignancies. More recently, she founded the Multidisciplinary Lung Cancer Screening Program at UNC and continues to direct both programs. Her expertise includes screening, diagnosis and staging of lung cancer and management of treatment complications.

Rivera holds several vital leadership roles at UNC and for more than 20 years has served national pulmonary and cancer societies including the American Thoracic Society (ATS), The American College of Chest Physicians (CHEST) and the American Cancer Society National Lung Cancer Round Table through numerous leadership roles and by sharing her time, knowledge and passion to advance the field of Thoracic Oncology

Rivera collaborates with colleagues at UNC on NIH/NCI funded research and has co-developed and serves as Co-Investigator of the North Carolina Lung Screening Registry, a statewide initiative to examine the delivery, quality and outcomes of lung cancer screening and evaluate the extent to which disparities in lung cancer screening outcomes exist. Her ongoing funded research activities also include a multi-institution pilot project exploring presence of coronary artery calcification on lung cancer screening CT and downstream risk stratification and statin delivery and exploring rural/urban disparities associated with biomarker testing in advanced lung cancer.

Rivera is passionate and committed to medical education and mentoring and has received numerous awards at UNC and from National Societies. She is particularly passionate about developing the next generation of leaders and increasing the representation of women and underrepresented minorities in our field.

Awards and Honors

  • Elected Secretary-Treasurer of the American Thoracic Society, 2020-present
  • Elected, Member of the ABIM Pulmonary Exam Committee, 2019-present
  • 2019 Assembly on Thoracic Oncology Lifetime Achievement Award
  • Latin Medical Student Association Inaugural CHARLA Lecture, 2019
  • The First Annual Pulmonary and Critical Care Division Faculty Teacher of the Year Award, 2018
  • CHEST Presidential Honor Lecture, 2017
  • Teaching Scholars Program, 2003-2004
  • The UNC School of Medicine Richard H. Whitehead Lecturer, 1998

Recent Publications

  1. Haddad DN, Sandler KL, Henderson LM, Rivera MP, Aldrich MC. Disparities in Lung Cancer Screening: A Review. Ann Am Thorac Soc. 2020, February 4. doi:10.1513 [Epub ahead of print]
  2. Rivera MP. Passion, Perseverance and Quantum Leaps: Lung Cancer in the 21st Century. Clin Chest Med 2020;41:doi:10.1016
  3. MacRosty C, Rivera MP. Lung Cancer in Women: A Modern Epidemic. Clin Chest Med. 2020;41:53-65
  4. Silvestri GA, Bevill BT, Huang J, Brooks M, Choi Y, Kennedy G, Lofaro L, Chen A, Rivera MP, Tanner NT, Vachani A, Yarmus L, Pastis NJ. An evaluation of diagnostic yield from Bronchoscopy: the impact of clinical/radiographic factors, procedure type and degree of suspicion for cancer. Chest. 2020 Jan 21. [Epub ahead of print]
  5. Bringhurst J, Weber DJ, Miller M, Rivera MP, Akulian J, Rutala WA, Sickbert-Bennett EE. A Bronchoscopy-Associated Pseudo-Outbreak of Mycobacterium mucogenicum Traced to Use of Contaminated Ice Used for Bronchoalveolar Lavage. Infect Cont Hosp Ep. 2019 [Epub ahead of print]
  6. Sears CR, Tobias P, Possick JD, Camus P, Gaga M, Garon ED, Gould MK, Naidoo J, Nishino M, Patel SP, Limper AH, Montgrain P, Travis WD, *Rivera MP. Knowledge Gaps in Immune-checkpoint inhibitor-related pneumonitis: A Research Statement. Am J Resp Crit Care Med. 2019;200:e31-e43. *Co-Chair and Senior author
  7. Burks CA, Gould MK, Silvestri GA, Yarmus LB, Nana-Sinkam P, Vachani A, Fuster MM, Tanner NT, Wahidi MM, Arenberg DA, Gonzalez AV, Sears CR, Slatore CG, Tanoue LT, Rivera MP.* Safely and Effectively Evaluating CT Detected Lung Lesions: Much Work to be Done. Accepted Annals Am Thorac Soc 8/2019 * Senior author
  8. Thiboutot J, Yarmus LB, Lee HJ,Rivera MP, Ost DE, Feller-Kopman D. Real-World Application of the Navigate Trial. J Thorac Oncol. 2019 Jul;14(7):e146-e147
  9. Long J, Petrov R, Haithcock B, Chambers D, Belanger A, Burks AC, Rivera MP,Ghosh S, MacRosty C, Delgado A, Akulian Perioperative Electromagnetic Transthoracic Nodule Localization for Minimally Invasive Pulmonary Resection. Ann Thorac Surg. 2019 Jun 21. pii: S0003-4975(19)30873-2. doi: 10.1016/j.athoracsur.2019.04.107. [Epub ahead of print]
  10. Belanger A, Hollyfield J, Yacovone G, Ceppe AS, Akulian J, Burks C, Rivera MP, Dodd L, Long JM, Haithcock BE, Pecot CV. Incidence and Clinical Relevance of NSCLC Lymph Node Micro-Metastasis Detected by Staging EBUS-TBNA. J Thorac Disease 2019;doi:10.21037/jtd.2019.05.36 [Epub ahead of print]
  11. Henderson LM, Benefield TS, Bearden SC, Reuland, DS, Goldstein, AO, Throneburrg A, Rivera, MP. Changes in physician knowledge, attitudes, beliefs, and practices regarding lung cancer screening. Annals Am Thorac Soc 2019; [Epub ahead of print]
  12. Weiner RS, Rivera MP. Lung cancer screening programs in the United States: Perpetuating the inverse care law. Chest 2019; 155:883-885
  13. Rivera MP, Henderson L. Lung Cancer Screening and Shared Decision Making in Cancer Survivors: The Long and Winding Road. Trans Lung Cancer Res 2019;8(2):119-123
  14. Rivera MP. Management of Malignant Pleural Effusions: Round and round we go. Annals Am Thorac Soc 2019;16:59-61
  15. Belanger A, Burks CA, Chambers DM, Ghosh S MacRosty C, Conterato A, Rivera MP, Akulian JA. Peripheral Lung Nodule Diagnosis and Fiducial Marker Placement Using a Novel Tip-Tracked Electromagnetic Navigation Bronchoscopy System. J Bronchol Intervent Pulmonol 2019;26:41-48 [Epub ahead of print 2018]
  16. Henderson LM, Marsh KM, Benefield T, Jones LM, Reuland D, Brenner A, Goldstein A, Molina PL, Maygarden S, Rivera MP. Opinions and Practices of Lung Cancer Screening by Physician Specialty in a Large Academic Medical Center. NC Med J 2019;80:19-26
  17. Cubillos L, Brenner AT, Birchard K, Henderson L, Jones L, Molina P, Pignone MP, Ratner S, Rivera MP, Reuland DS. Multidisciplinary Quality Improvement Initiative to Standardize Reporting of Lung Cancer Screening. Transl Lung Cancer Res 2018;7 (Suppl 3): S297-S301
  18. Rivera MP, Tanner NT, Silvestri GA, et al. Incorporating Coexisting Chronic Illness into Decisions about Patient Selection for Lung Cancer Screening: An Official American Thoracic Society Research Statement. Am J Respir Crit Care Med 2018; 198:e3-e13
  19. Beattie J, Yarmus L, Wahidi M, Rivera MP, Gilbert C, Maldonado F, Czarnecka K. Argento A, Chen A, Herth F, Sterman DH. The Immune Landscape of Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer: Utility of Cytologic and Histologic Samples Obtained Through Minimally Invasive Pulmonary Procedures. Am J Respir Crit Care 2018;198: 24-38 [Epub ahead of print]
  20. Henderson LM, Jones L, Marsh KM, Brenner AT, Goldstein AO, Benefield T, Greenwood-Hickman MA, Molina P, Rivera MP, Rueland D.  Opinions, Practice Patterns, and Perceived Barriers to Lung Cancer Screening among Attending and Resident Primary Care Physicians. Risk Manag and Healthc Policy 2018;10: 189–195
  21. Brenner A, Cubillos L, Birchard K, Henderson L, Molina P, Pignone MP, Ratner S, Rivera MP, Reuland DS. Improving the implementation of lung cancer screening guidelines at an academic medical center. J Healthc Qual. 2018;40:27-35[Epub ahead of print 2017]
  22. Henderson LM, Jones LM, Marsh MW, Benefield T, Rivera MP, Molina PL. Lung Cancer Screening Practices in North Carolina CT Facilities. J Am Coll Radiol 2017; 14:166-170

Reach NC Profile

Find publications on Pubmed

M. Patricia River