Dr. Ovunc was born and raised in Turkey. She attended Hacettepe University School of Medicine in Ankara, the top-ranking medical school in Turkey. She joined Hacettepe University’s MD/PhD program, which is the nation’s inaugural combined program and became one of the first MD/PhD graduates in Turkey.
Her PhD is on Molecular Biology and Genetics, which she started at Hacettepe University and completed at Hildebrandt Lab, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute lab run by Dr Friedhelm Hildbrandt at University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, MI. Her research led to multiple publications, with the biggest contribution being identification of a novel gene that causes steroid-resistant nephrotic syndrome which can potentially be treatable.
She then did postdoctoral research fellowship at the Blood & Marrow Transplantation Lab, run by Dr Pavan Reddy at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, MI. She was involved in an NIH clinical trial exploring the effects of histone deacetylase inhibitor administration to patients receiving allogeneic bone marrow transplant to avoid graft-versus-host disease, a major complication of bone marrow transplantation.
Although she enjoys medical research, her true passion is clinical medicine. Therefore, following postdoctoral studies, she did her pediatrics residency training at Boston Children’s Hospital in Boston, MA.
Driven by her fascination with the lungs, she then did her fellowship training in pediatric pulmonary at Boston Children’s Hospital in Boston, MA and subspecialized in pediatric lung diseases.
After completion of her subspecialty training, she worked at Elliot Hospital in Manchester, New Hampshire, where she was as one of three pediatric pulmonologists in the entire state. This enabled her to perform numerous bronchoscopy procedures and manage a vast number of patients with a broad scope of pediatric pulmonary diseases.
As a result of her molecular biology and genetics background, she developed a special interest in primary ciliary dyskinesia (PCD). Her research aimed to identify PCD in patients with Heterotaxy Syndrome (a complex congenital heart disease). The study lead to crucial findings and the addition of PCD assessment as an additional item in the preoperative checklist for heterotaxy patients having biventricular conversion (a type of congenital heart surgery) at Boston Children’s Hospital. She was also involved in the program development of the PCD foundation accredited PCD center, which is currently established at Boston Children’s Hospital.
She has a wide range of interest in pediatric pulmonology including asthma, bronchiectasis, chronic lung disease, cystic fibrosis, bronchopulmonary dysplasia due to premature birth, interstitial lung disease, congenital lung disease, pulmonary hypertension, chronic ventilator management, cough, pneumonia and respiratory distress. She continues to have an emphasis on primary ciliary dyskinesia and is involved in research and program development in this area. In addition, she is committed to medical education and have participated in teaching medical students, residents and fellows as well as nurses and health associates.