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October 2020               Newsletter               Vol 1 Issue 10
Empowering physician-scientists to launch
successful research careers
Early career physician-scientists face challenges with research productivity as they navigate both clinical and research training and responsibilities. To help alleviate this challenge, the OPSD offers Technician Support Awards. Each award provides $25,000 for one year to cover a portion of the salary and associated fringe benefits of a laboratory technician or research assistant and is renewable for an additional year with the demonstration of success in year one and need for year two.

OPSD now also maintains a pool of research technician applicants. OPSD conducts outreach to solicit CVs from candidates graduating STEM programs and recent graduates interested in such research-intensive experiences, with the understanding that the opportunity will benefit both the student who may be considering pursuing graduate or medical school education—and the award recipient, who gains helping hands on a research project, as well as valuable mentorship experience.

Dr. Muath Bishawi, Integrated Cardiothoracic Surgery Resident, received a technician support award through the Duke SCI-StARR R38 Program.  Dr. Bishawi reviewed the applicants through the OPSD technician pool, and hired Romario Thomas to work with him in Dr. George Truskey’s laboratory.

“My main objective applying for the position of research technician was to gain more experience in the field of research. This experience would ultimately prepare me to be successful in my future endeavor as a MD-PhD candidate.  I believe that this position provides the development that is requisite to be successful in attaining this goal.”
While working with Dr. Bishawi, Romario has the opportunity to observe many PhD students.  “Seeing how they work on a daily basis gives me first-hand experience and the tools necessary to be successful in higher education.”
Romario currently works with Dr. Bishawi on understanding factors that affect cell senescence/proliferation fate decision with a goal of contributing to treatment of cancers. “This interests me because there are great gaps of knowledge in this area and many people suffer from different types of cancers. Therefore, I believe contributing to this area may help to save many lives.”  Romario says his experience has been great so far.  “I have been honing my skills as a scientist and gaining priceless experience in an amazing lab setting. I have learned a lot since I started and I am excited to see how far the journey goes as it relates to my research project.”
If you are an early career physician-scientist whose research would benefit from having the support of a laboratory technician, you are encouraged to apply.  The 2020 OPSD Technician Support Award process opens November 1, 2020.  The deadline for submission is February 1, 2021.  For more information on this program, please visit OPSD Funding Resources, and choose OPSD Technician Support.


Fund to Retain Clinical Scientists at Duke supplements of up to $30,000-$50,000 for clinician-scientists with significant caregiving responsibilities. Learn More
Email Intent to Apply: October 15, 2020 (Applications due November 6, 2020)

CTSI Multidisciplinary Vision Program (MVP) Award provides funding to support novel translational research focused on improving health.  Learn More
Application Deadline:
October 22, 2020

TRiCEM Fall 2020 Graduate Student Award are one-year awards to pursue research in evolutionary medicine relevant to graduate research.  Learn More
Application Deadline: October 30, 2020

Doris Duke Charitable Foundation Clinical Scientist Development Award
is for physician-scientists in their first faculty position (including instructors) conducting clinical research can
submit a pre-proposal application.
Application Deadline: November 13, 2020

2021 Faculty Advancement Seed Grants provide a financial head start for novel faculty development initiatives within academic unitsLearn More
Application Deadline: December 1, 2020

Career Development Funding Opportunity
supports the career development of clinicians and non-clinicians to develop the skills necessary to initiate and sustain an independent research career.  Learn More
Letter of Intent Due: November 1, 2020

Duke CTSA TL1 Fellowship provides 2 years of funded time to support the research training of outstanding junior scientists.
Application Deadline:  January 19, 2021.  Learn more at
MD Program
PhD Program

The Scope: weekly emails with the best research from NEJM, JAMA, concisely summarized for a quick read. 

The Compact for Open Access Publishing Equity (COPE) Fund  reduces barriers to open-access publishing and supports Duke authors. Learn More

Learn the Advantages of Linking Publications to Research Data and the SoM Roadmap for Open Science

No-Cost Professional Development Courses

Duke School of Medicine Anti-Racism Resources


2020 Nobel Prize Announcements

Multimillion Dollar NIH Grant Creates First Duke Center of Excellence in Genome Science


New Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy Drug Shows Benefit in Duke Trial
A new drug offers hope for young boys with the progressive Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Learn More

Duke Spine Surgeon Offers Awake Surgery
Physician-scienitst Muhammad Abd-El-Barr is one of only a handful of neurosurgeons in the U.S. who performs "awake spinal surgery". Learn More

CDVS Workshop: Reproducible Research:  Tips and Tools introduces foundational data management strategies and  facilitates peer-to-peer discussion (RCR-200 credit).
Wednesday October 14, 1-3pm  Registration Required

CHDI Great Minds Think for Kids Seminar Series:  Race Disparities in Preterm Birth Session includes a research-in progress talk by Dr. Sarahn Wheeler, practicing maternal-fetal medicine specialist, followed by Q&A.
Tuesday, October 20, 12-1pm
Zoom URL

Attend the 7th Annual DCI Scientific Retreat 
Duke faculty, trainees (students, residents, fellows, postdocs, etc.)
Tyler Jacks, PhD (MIT): O. Michael Colvin Memorial Lecture
Scott Antonia, MD, PhD (DCI): Faculty Presenter
Friday, October 23, 12:30-5:00pm
Zoom URL

NIH Funding Questions?  Learn about program funding and grants administration directly from NIH staff at this free virtual seminar.
October 27-30  Get details and register

Research Careers Ahead! Professional Development Series
"Finding Funding, Onboarding and Research Navigator Services" with
Sunita Patil, PhD
Wednesday, October 28, 4 - 5pm
Register Here
View previous sessions

New Online Course! Just Ask Online:
Intro to Health Equity and Diversity in Clinical Research

This new course is now available in the LMS and takes about 30 minutes to complete.  The course is designed to provide study teams with an overview of the Just Ask concept, health disparities, health equity, and the current state of diversity in clinical trials. The online version of Just Ask begins to frame the ‘why’ around being mindful and intentional in our work to engage and recruit a diverse population of research participants. It also provides a few resources and ideas for how study teams can intentionally begin to incorporate a health equity and diversity lens into study plans. 

Check out the course!

Tell us about your research.
Although immune checkpoint therapy has revolutionized treatment of many cancers, including melanoma, the majority of patients still fail to respond to these therapies.  Additionally, immune therapy can come with toxicities, so patient selection is critical to maximize benefit.  My research focuses on overcoming resistance to immune checkpoint therapy and improving patient selection.  We use intratumoral immune agonists (such as IL-12) to alter the tumor microenvironment such that the tumor may become sensitive to immune checkpoint therapy.  I have also been using Nano String technology to dissect the immune landscape of tumor draining lymph nodes in melanoma to determine cells that may regulate tumor control, specifically dendritic cells.

Why is your science important?
Melanoma has been increasing for several years.  At later stages, melanoma remains difficult to treat.  The introduction of immune checkpoint therapy has helped many patients, but many patients do not respond.  Additionally, therapy is associated with toxicity.  osts and patient selection strategies are lacking.  If we can select patients that will respond, we can minimize patient risk and cost of ineffective therapy.  Furthermore, strategies to augment response can benefit the lives of patients.

You are a two time recipient of the OPSD Technician Support Award.  How has this award helped you in your research?
The OPSD technician Award has been extremely valuable to advance my research.  The technician I work with is extremely experienced and can work independently while I maintain my clinical duties.  The award allows me to advance the research goals because the technician can carry out experiments that need full time attention.

If you would like research career mentoring from outside of your department sign up here.

If you have what it takes to be a great master mentor, email us here.
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