Marcia Van Riper, PhD, RN, FAAN

Children’s Health, Disability Ethics, Healthcare Communication, Primary Care/Family Nurse Practitioner


The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
School of Nursing
Carrington Hall, CB #7460
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7460

Office: 433

Currently Accepting PhD Students

Marcia Van Riper RN, PhD, FAAN has a joint appointment in the School of Nursing and the Carolina Center for Genome Sciences, and she served as Chair of the Family Health Division.  The primary focus of her program of research is the family experience of being tested for and living with a genetic condition, with special emphasis on families of individuals with Down syndrome. To date, other conditions she has focused on include Sickle Cell Disease, Cystic Fibrosis, Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer, Huntington Disease, and Factor V Leiden.  Marcia and her international colleagues are currently conducting a mixed-methods, cross-cultural study designed to address existing gaps in knowledge concerning how cultural scripts and a variety of family factors (i.e., family demands, family appraisal, family resources, family problem solving communication, family coping, and family management styles) contribute to adaptation and resilience in families of individuals with Down Syndrome. To date, over 1200 parents of individuals with Down syndrome from over 10 countries have participated (e.g., Brazil, Ireland,  Korea, Japan, Malaysia, Netherlands, Portugal, Thailand, United Kingdom and United States). Each spring Marcia teaches a required undergraduate course, Family Centered Genomic Health Care. In 2012, Marcia was awarded a Fulbright Scholar Award to spend 6 months at the Catherine McAuley School of Nursing and Midwifery, University College Cork, Ireland, collaborating with faculty on family research, teaching, and publishing.


  • 2013 ISONG (International Society of Nurses in Genetics) Founders Award for Outstanding Nursing Education in Genetics
  • 2013 Visiting Professor, Glasgow Caledonian University, School of Health and Life Sciences, Glasgow, Scotland
  • 2013 Visiting Professor, Escola Superior de Enfermagem do Porto, Porto, Portugal
  • 2012 Fulbright Scholar – Ireland 2012-2013
  • 2012 Visiting Professor, University of São Paulo at Ribeirão Preto, College of Nursing Department, WHO Collaborating Center for Nursing Research and Development, Ribeirão Preto, São Paulo, Brazil
  • 2012 Visiting Professor, Escola Superior de Enfermagem do Porto, Porto, Portugal
  • 2012 Honour Committee of the 11 Congreso Internacional y V111 Congreso Nacional de la Asociacion de Enfermería Comunitaria (AEC) 2nd International and 8th National Congress of the Spanish and Community Nursing Association
  • 2011 Fellow in the American Academy of Nursing
  • 2011 Fulbright Specialist Candidate
  • 2011 Finalist for Fulbright Scholar Program- Italy
  • 2011 Graduation Speaker for ABSN Program, UNC-Chapel Hill School of Nursing
  • 2011 Greatest Impact on Field of Nursing Award presented by ABSN Class of 2011, UNC-Chapel Hill School of Nursing
  • 2011 Visiting Professor, National Defense Medical Center, Taipei, Taiwan
  • 2010 Madeline Brill Nelson Visiting Professor, Oregon Health Sciences University, Portland, Oregon
  • 2009 Distinguished Contribution to Family Nursing Award, presented at the 9th International Family Nursing Conference, Reykjavik, Iceland
  • 2008 ISONG (International Society of Nurses in Genetics) Founders Award for Outstanding Genetic Research and Scholarship
  • 2007 Elinor Reed Distinguished Visiting Professor, University of Tennessee – Health Sciences Center, Memphis, TN.
  • 2006 Graduation Speaker for ABSN Program, UNC-Chapel Hill School of Nursing
  • 2005 Excellence in Course Instruction Award presented by ABSN Class of 2005, UNC-Chapel Hill School of Nursing
  • 2005 Fellow in the Parr Ethics Center
  • 2004 Graduation Speaker for ABSN Program, UNC- Chapel Hill School of Nursing
  • 2003 Irving Harris Visiting Professor, University of Illinois at Chicago SON
  • 2002 Moister Ethics Fellow, UNC Institute of Arts and Humanities Ethics Program
  • 2000 Recognized at President’s Salute to Undergraduate Achievement – nominated by an honor student who had been selected for recognition
  • 1999 Outstanding Faculty Teaching Award received at The Ohio State University College of Nursing, 1999 Spring Convocation
  • 1999 Greek Week-Faculty Appreciation Honor – Nominated by Alpha Omicron Pi Sorority1993 National Council of Family Relations Outstanding Student/New Professional
  • 1991 Outstanding Young Wisconsinite
  • 1990 Midwest Nursing Research Society, Graduate Student Poster Award, First
    Place Doctoral Student Category
  • 1987 Association for Retarded Citizens, Circle of Friends Award
  • 1986 Phi Kappa Phi
  • 1975 Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing, Delta Gamma Chapter
  • 1974 Mortar Board
  • 1972 Alpha Lambda Delta


Book Chapters

  • Van Riper, M. (2016). Clinical Genetics. In D.L. Lowdermilk, S. E., Perry, M.C. Cashion, & K.R. Alden (Eds.), Maternity and women’s health care (11th ed.) (pp. 41-58). St Louis, MO: Mosby.
  • Van Riper, M. (2011). Family nursing and genomics in the 21st Century. In E. K. Svavarsdóttir & H. Jonsdottir (Eds.), Family nursing in action (69-83). Reykjavík: University Press of the University of Iceland.
  • Van Riper, M. (2010). Genomics and the family: Integrative frameworks. In K. P. Tercyak (Ed.), Handbook of genomics and the family (pp. 109-139). New York: Springer.
  • Landsman, G. & Van Riper, M. (2007). Incorporating children with disabilities into family life. In E. J. Sobo, K. Dennis, & P. S. Kurtin (Eds.), Optimizing care for children with special health care needs in their early years (pp. 83-115). Baltimore, MD: Paul H. Brookes Publishing, Inc.
  • Van Riper, M. (2006). Ethical, legal, and social implications. In M. S. Runge & W. C. Patterson (Eds.), Principles of molecular medicine (pp. 61-65). Totowa, NJ: Humana Press Inc.
  • Van Riper, M., & Gallo, A. (2005). Family, health, and genomics. In D. R. Crane, & E. S. Marshall (Eds.), Handbook of families and health: Interdisciplinary perspective (pp. 195-217). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications Inc.


Refereed Publications:

  • Lázaro-Muñoz, G., Conley, J.M., Davis, A.M., Van Riper, M., Walker, R.L., & Juengst, E.T. (in press). Looking for trouble: Doctors, patients, and preventive genomic sequencing. American Journal of Bioethics,15 (7), 3-14.
  • Choi, H., & Van Riper, M. (2014) Maternal perceptions of sibling adaptation in Korean families of children with Down syndrome, Journal of Intellectual Disability Research, 58 (10), 962-977 (Epub ahead of print).
  • Thoyre, S. M., Pados, B.F., Park, J., Estrem, H., Hodges, E.A., McComish, C., Van Riper, M., & Murdoch, K. (2014). Development and content validation of the Pediatric Eating Assessment Tool (Pedi-Eat). American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 23, 46-59.
  • Takataya, K., Van Riper, M., Yeo, S., Kondo, Y., Nakamoto, K., Okumura, K., Sakagami, R., & Mikami, Y. (2014). Adaptation in families living with Down syndrome. Yamanashi Nursing Journal, 13 (1), 1-8.
  • Choi, H., & Van Riper, M. (2013) Siblings of children with Down syndrome: An integrative review. MCN, The American Journal of Maternal/Child Nursing,38, 72-78.
  • Prows, C., Hopkin, R., Barnoy, S., & Van Riper, M. (2013). An update of childhood genetic disorders. Journal of Nursing Scholarship, 45(1), 34-42.
  • Roederer, M., Van Riper, M., Valgus, J., Knafl, K., & McLeod, H. (2012). Knowledge, attitudes, and education of pharmacists in North Carolina regarding pharmacogenetic testing. Personalized Medicine, 9, 19-27.
  • Choi, H., Van Riper, M., & Thoyre, S. (2012) Decision making following a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome: an integrative review. Journal of Midwifery and Women’s Health, 57 (2), 156-164.
  • Van Riper, M., & Choi, H. (2011) Family-provider interactions surrounding the diagnosis of Down syndrome. Genetics in Medicine, 13 (8), 714-716.
  • Dodson, C., & Van Riper, M. (2011). Analysis of clinicians’ attitudes towards pharmacogenomics. Personalized Medicine, 8(5), 533-540
  • Hsiao, C., Van Riper, M., Lee, S.H., Chen, S.J., & Lin, S.C. (2011). Taiwanese nursing students’ perceived knowledge and clinical comfort with genetics. Journal of Nursing Scholarship,43 (2), 125-132.
  • Hsiao, C., & Van Riper, M. (2011). Individual and family adaptation in Taiwanese families living with Down syndrome. Journal of Family Nursing, 17, 182-201.
  • Van Riper, M. (2011). Down syndrome and the family. In M. Croft (Ed.), Encyclopedia of family health (pp. 335-337). Los Angeles, CA: Sage.
  • Van Riper, M. (2011). Genetic conditions, experiences of families during the prediagnosis and diagnosis phase. In M. Croft (Ed.), Encyclopedia of family health (pp. 526-529). Los Angeles, CA: Sage.
  • Hsiao, C., & Van Riper, M. (2010). Research on caregiving in Chinese families living with mental illness: A critical review. Journal of Family Nursing. 16 (1), 68-100.
  • Hsiao, C., & Van Riper, M. (2009). Individual and family adaptation in Taiwanese families of individuals with severe and persistent mental illness (SPMI). Research in Nursing and Health, 32 (3), 307-320.
  • Cuskelly, M., Hauser-Cram, P., & Van Riper, M. (2009). Families of children with Down syndrome: What we know and what we need to know. Down Syndrome Research and Practice, 12.105-113.
  • Spector, D., Mishel, M., Skinner, C., DeRoo, L., Van Riper, M., & Sandler, D.P. (2009). Breast cancer risk perception and lifestyle behaviors among White and Black women with a family history of the disease. Cancer Nursing: An International Journal for Cancer Care. 32, 299-308.
  • Van Riper, M. (2007). Families of children with Down syndrome: Responding to a “change of plans” with resilience. Journal of Pediatric Nursing, 22, 116-128.
  • Van Riper, M. (2005). Genetic testing and the family. Journal of Midwifery and Womens Health, 50 (3), 227-233.
  • Ball, J., Van Riper, M., Engstrom, E., & Matheson, J. (2005). Incidental finding of ultrasound markers of Down syndrome in the second trimester of pregnancy: A case study. Journal of Midwifery and Womens Health. 50 (3), 243-245.
  • Van Riper, M., & Mc Kinnon, W. (2004). Genetic testing for breast and ovarian cancer susceptibility: A family experience. Journal of Midwifery and Womens Health, 49 (3), 210-219.
  • Investigator, Center for Genomics and Society G. Henderson PI, NIH, NHGRI, ELSI Program, P50HG004488, 2013-2018.
  • Investigator, North Carolina Clinical Genomic Evaluation by NextGen Exome Sequencing (NCGENES). J. P. Evans PI. NIH, NHGRI, 2012-2016.
  • Principal Investigator. Researching ELSI Research Training. NIH, NHGRI, ELSI Program, R03HG003982, 05/01/2006-05/31/11.
  • Co-Investigator, Closing the gap: Bringing genetics to clinical medicine. J. Evans, PI, Investments for the Future Award, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. 5/2007–5/2010.
  • Co-Principal Investigator. Family factors influencing adaptation in Taiwanese families raising children with Down syndrome. Chiu-Yueh Hsiao PI, Faculty Research Grant funded by Chung Shan Medical School, Taiwan. 2009-2010.
  • Co-Principal Investigator. ELSI scale-up: Large sample gene discovery and disclosure. D. Bailey PI., NIH, NHGRI, ELSI Program, P20HG003387, Planning Grant for a Center for Excellence in ELSI Research, 7/01/2004-6/30/06.
  • Principal Investigator. African-American families making sense of and using genetic testing results. Faculty Research Opportunity Grant, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Nursing, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, 4/15/2004-08/31/05.
  • Principal Investigator. Minority families being screened for and living with genetic conditions. NIH, NINR, Center for Innovations in Health Disparities Research Pilot Study, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, 10/01/03-09/30/2005.
  • Principal Investigator. A multidisciplinary course in genetics focusing on ethical, legal, and social implications of advances in genetics. UNC-CH Health Affairs Interdisciplinary Grant. January 2003
  • Co-Principal Investigator. Feeding issues for children with Down syndrome and their families. NIH, NINR, Center for Research on Chronic Illness Pilot Study with Co-PI S. Thoyre, P30NR04962, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, 5/01/02- 9/01/04.
  • Principal Investigator. Family experience of genetic testing: ethical dimensions. NIH, NINR, K01NR00139, 08/01/2000-08/31/2004.