2016 School of Medicine Strategic Plan

Intro Banner for the Strategic Plan


The purpose of this document is to lay out a roadmap for the Duke University School of Medicine (SOM) to guide its development through 2020 and beyond. Importantly, however, it represents only one of several recent strategic planning efforts and it is not meant to be all encompassing. In other words, it focuses on some strategic areas, but it does not describe everything we will do. 

The last formal strategic planning process for the School of Medicine was in 2006, in parallel to a Duke University-wide process and shortly before a change in decanal leadership. The 2006 strategic plan was developed at a time when the School’s finances seemed secure and resources appeared to be available for new initiatives. However, the global economic downturn in 2008-2009 and, at least as importantly, the continued stagnation of the federal research budget intervened. The School’s budget became severely challenged, and this necessitated modifications to the 2006 strategic plan in 2009-2010. 

Trent Semans Center for Health Education

In spite of resource constraints that were probably unprecedented in the history of the School of Medicine, we did make progress forward. We built the Trent-Semans Center for Health Education, a spectacular and highly functional building that not only serves MD student education, but that has become a resource for the entire campus. We established four new clinical departments over a period of six years, increasing the total number of departments from 18 to 22. We recruited 19 new department chairs and provided resources for them to implement their visions for their departments. We established the Duke Cancer Institute, the Duke Molecular Physiology Institute and a host of other new research initiatives. We added a Primary Care Leadership Track to our medical education curriculum, established 3 new Masters degree programs and one new PhD program and opened both an education academy and a student-oriented clinic in collaboration with the School of Nursing. We have raised, to date, more than $1.1 billion in our ongoing capital campaign. These accomplishments, and many others, are outlined in the Appendix at the end of this document. 

Starting in the spring of 2015, the School of Medicine hosted a series of brainstorming sessions to elicit ideas for a new strategic plan. Although resources are still more limited than they have been in the past, and we continue to face very strong headwinds, School leadership felt that it was opportune to undertake this process in parallel with an enterprise-wide Duke Health strategic framework process led by the new Chancellor for Health Affairs, Eugene Washington and a Duke University strategic planning process led by Provost Sally Kornbluth. Our new strategic plan intersects with both of those efforts, but also uniquely focuses on the issues that faculty leaders identified as most important for the School of Medicine in 2016. 

The highest priorities that emerged from our strategic planning process include: 

  • Becoming a destination of choice for the best faculty members, students and staff by nurturing the careers of those we recruit and leading our peers in diversity and inclusion; 
  • Having a portfolio of world-class research across the full spectrum of biomedical sciences, but particularly strengthening our basic science departments, our physician-scientist faculty and our research in population health sciences; 
  • Having a campus that inspires with much needed expansion of laboratory space and more clinician office space; 
  • Collaborating even more with the Duke University Health System, with other schools of Duke University in Durham and with Duke’s new educational institutions in Asia; 
  • Expanding and using our resources wisely to achieve financial security both in the near term and in decades to come. 

This plan, presented in outline form because it is primarily for internal use, offers tactics for addressing these priorities. It is ambitious and aspirational, and we recognize at the outset that it is likely more than can be achieved in 5 years. Nonetheless, it is the culture of the School of Medicine to aim high and to partake of Duke University’s “outrageous ambition.”


Plan banner for the Strategic Plan

2016 Plan

  • Recruit, nurture and retain “sunmaker” faculty members who develop new areas, promote collaboration, are magnets for others 
    • Increase the number of endowed professorships young researchers in lab
    • Expand the Partnership Hires program 
    • Backstop tenure for outstanding scientists in clinical departments 
    • Make seed-funding available for exploration of new areas 
    • Optimize Appointments, Promotions & Tenure (APT) for a 21st century faculty and be transparent about metrics for success 
    • Cultivate and support young physician-scientists 
    • Develop a faculty research directory to facilitate collaborations 
    • Make mentorship a priority 
    • Develop a culture of professionalism, self-awareness and support
    • Provide strong start-up, bridging and retention support

      Provide best-in-class, innovative education, training and career development 
    • Continue to innovate in pre-medical, undergraduate and graduate health professions education 
    • Foster inter-professional education and team work in our student-oriented clinic and other settings 
    • Endow research fellowships for students, residents, postdocs and fellows 
    • Increase scholarship support for our Primary Care Leadership Track, Medical Scientist Training, Physician Assistant and Doctor of Physical Therapy programs 
    • Update PhD education and consider new graduate programs in complementary and emerging areas 
    • Continue to evolve our faculty development and leadership programs to enhance education, research and clinical careers 
    • Offer staff development opportunities to strengthen our workforce and retain the best individuals
    • Make Duke AHEAD sustainable over the long term 
  • Be a leader in diversity and inclusion 
    • Create and share best practices, monitor and reward success in diversifying our leadership, faculty, learners and senior staff 
    • Provide funding for deliberate and intentional recruitment and retention to enhance diversity and excellence across the school 
    • Develop a culture of inclusion and equity across the SOM 
    • Tackle the difficult diversity issues that hold us back 
    • Develop and expand our presence in health disparities research 
    • Expand educational interventions in the areas of cultural competency and bias in academic medicine 
  • Support signature areas of strength while also allowing new areas to emerge and grow, recognizing that our mission includes 
    • Discovering and understanding novel biological mechanisms Lead researcher holding large beaker
    • Applying fundamental knowledge to understand health and disease 
    • Developing and validating new therapies, devices and diagnostics 
    • Expanding and applying knowledge to improve the health of individuals and populations 
  • Be known as a top institution for ideation, discovery, invention, innovation, implementation and entrepreneurship 
    • Ensure that all of our departments rank in the top 15 nationally (most in the top 5-10) 
    • Strengthen our basic science departments 
    • Leverage joint recruitments, the CTSA, CRUs, DOCR, DCRI and DTRI to support clinical and translational research across the SOM and university 
    • Assure research integrity and reproducibility through continued implementation of Duke QuEST initiatives and through emphasis on scientific culture and accountability 
    • Develop “faculty extender” supports to minimize time spent on routine and administrative activities 
    • Establish a dynamic, entrepreneurial ecosystem that promotes translation, knowledge export and formation of new start-ups 
  • Provide world-class, affordable, service-oriented shared resources and quantitative expertise 
    • Host state-of-the-art technology cores and a continuing voucher program to access them 
    • Facilitate access to quantitative expertise 
    • Develop visionary information technology and tools to generate knowledge from electronic health records 
    • Expand our capabilities in big data analytics 
    • Establish institution-wide biobanking linked to medical records and MURDOCK 
    • Provide GMP capabilities for cellular and non-cellular therapies 
    • Host outstanding animal resources with barrier, gnotobiotic and ABSL-3 capabilities 
    • Expand our Office for Research Development for preparation of multi-investigator grant applications 
    • Enhance clinical research support through investments in a clinical research management system, evolution of the CRUs and DOCR, and tools to assist the faculty in identifying eligible and interested research participants 
    • Improve the Office for Licensing and Ventures with increased transparency to better s erve the faculty and the university 
    • Create a new Department of Population Health Sciences hosting research and education programs 
  • Build new laboratory space to expand and to replace buildings near the end of their useful lives 
  • Continue to develop our downtown campus, providing space for entrepreneurial initiatives a nd DCRI 
  • Develop mechanisms to maintain vital connections between downtown facilities and t he main campus 
  • Create permanent educational space for the Doctor of Physical Therapy program 
  • Secure on-campus or near-campus offices for new clinicians and clinical investigators 
  • Partner with the Health System and the Private Diagnostic Clinic to align our work in clinical care and population health two surgeons look at monitor.
    • Build research and education into the culture and values of all of Duke Health and facilitate research in clinical sites 
  • Establish a new business development function within the SOM to foster a cademic-industry partnerships 
  • Increase collaborative interactions within the SOM and with other parts of Duke 
    • Facilitate joint faculty appointments; joint grant submission and administration 
    • Seek joint training and research grant opportunities 
    • Expand the Partnership Hires program for this purpose 
  • Grow and mature our MEDx partnership with Engineering 
  • Continue to build our collaborative research and education partnerships with D uke-NUS and DKU 
  • Participate in the global health strategy developed by the Duke Health Enterprise Strategic Plan to enhance our global health initiatives 
  • Establish a new quasi-endowment to support the SOM indefinitely 
    • combine funds from DUHS, the university, SOM reserves and philanthropy 
  • Construct financial models that smooth out tensions between institutes/centers and departments and that foster team science; 
  • Standardize best administrative practices and develop IT tools to be more efficient, effective and consistent 
  • Centralize/regionalize functions where appropriate and feasible 
  • Review our interpretation of federal regulations and internal policies to streamline as feasible and appropriate 
  • Develop a stronger culture of philanthropy with a philosophy that “arising tide raises all boats” 
  • Communicate our strengths and successes internally and externally
Appendix banner for the strategic Plan

Appendix – Building on Success

We undertake strategic planning process from a position of strength in spite of the headwinds of the global economic downturn, a flat NIH budget, and uncertainties about health care reform. Highlights from the past eight years:

  • Dermatology 
  • Orthopaedic Surgery 
  • Neurology 
  • Neurosurgery 
  • Primary Care Leadership Track (PCLT) 
  • Scholars in Molecular Medicine (DSSM) 
  • MS, PhD in Biostatistics 
  • Master of Management in Clinical Information (MMCi, moved from Fuqua) 
  • Inter-professional student-oriented clinic 
  • Master of Biomedical Sciences (MBS) 
  • Office of Biomedical Graduate Diversity
  • Duke Cancer Institute (DCI; in collaboration with DUHS) 
  • Duke Molecular Physiology Institute (DMPI) 
  • MURDOCK study 
  • Genomics of Microbial Systems (GeMS) 
  • Center for Human Disease Modeling (CHDM) 
  • Center for RNA Biology 
  • Center for Statistical Genetics and Genomics 
  • Regeneration Next
  • From the devolution of IGSP: 
  • Genomics and Computational Biology (GCB) 
  • Center for Applied Genomics and Precision Medicine (CAGPM) 
  • MEDx (with Pratt School of Engineering) 
  • Physician Assistant Education Building (S. Duke Street) 
  • Trent-Semans Center for Health Education (TSCHE) 
  • Carmichael Building and Durham Centre (anchors for downtown campus) 
  • Vivarium expansion 
  • Development of Erwin Square as the hub for research administration across campus 
  • Hudson Building (Duke Eye Center) 
  • Technology updates to research buildings along Research Drive 
  • Implementation of long term renovation plan for aging research buildings 
  • Creation of the Duke Office for Clinical Research (DOCR) 
  • Maturation of the departmental clinical research units (CRUs) 
  • New research informatics focus through the Office of Research Informatics (ORI) 
  • Strengthening of shared resources 
  • Multiple pilot grants and a peer-reviewed bridge funding program 
  • Junior faculty mentoring and grant writing assistance 
  • Leadership development programs (LEADER and ALICE) 
  • Creation of Duke AHEAD 
  • Office for Research Development (ORD) to assist faculty with multi-investigator grant applications 
  • Duke Quality and Excellence in Science Translation (Duke QuEST), an initiative to foster research integrity and enhance data provenance
  • Partnership Hires program for interdisciplinary recruitment 
  • Focus on diversity and inclusion, including the new Chief Diversity Officer position and the creation of a Diversity Strategic Plan with our department leaders 
  • Nobel Prizes in Chemistry to Robert Lefkowitz (2012) and Paul Modrich (2015) 
  • Lasker-DeBakey Award to Blake Wilson (2013) 
  • And many more honors