Fund to Retain Clinical Scientists at Duke

Junior faculty members often face the challenge of working to establish academic careers while simultaneously managing significant caregiving responsibilities. These competing demands make it challenging to succeed in an increasingly competitive grant funding environment, and indeed can be an obstacle to retaining physician scientists at research-intensive academic institutions. To support junior faculty at this critical tipping point in their careers, the Office for Faculty Development is pleased to offer the Fund to Retain Clinical Scientists at Duke. Supported by an award from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and Dean Mary Klotman, the Fund will provide supplements of up to $30,000-$50,000 per year to physician-scientists with significant care giving responsibilities. Exact award amounts will be dependent upon the availability of funds in a given year.

Now accepting applications for the January-December 2021 funding period.

Applications due November 6. E-mail of intent due October 15. 

Download the call for proposals              Information for current fund awardees 


Supplemental funds are available to physician-scientists, regardless of gender, who:

  • Demonstrate a compelling need for the supplement that is related to being a caregiver. Typically this would be childcare, partner care, and/or eldercare.
  • Are regular rank faculty members at the Medical Instructor or Assistant Professor level. Associate Professors are eligible only if they have been at the position for one year or less. Applicants must be full-time faculty members with a primary faculty appointment in a School of Medicine department.
  • Hold an MD or DO degree and an active US medical license
  • Have a career development award or research project grant with annual direct costs sufficient to provide both research and salary support. The FRCS awards are intended to supplement research projects; eligible faculty members must have active support for their research projects.
  • Have at least 40% protected time for research

  • Show evidence of strong research training and productivity
  • Are conducting an original and rigorous clinical research project (*see definition below) that has the potential to address a health issue that poses a significant clinical burden (with considerable morbidity and mortality, whether it is a rare or common condition)

*Definition of Clinical Research: For research projects supported in connection with the Fund, clinical research is defined as the scientific investigation of the etiology, prevention, diagnosis, or treatment of human disease using human subjects, human populations, or materials of human origin. Included in the definition are studies that utilize tissues or pathogens only if they can be linked to a patient.

Possible Uses of Funds

Applicants may request funds to be used in a variety of ways, for example:

  1. Research support personnel* (e.g. clinical research coordinator or technician)
  2. data extraction and analysis
  3. image processing and analysis
  4. assisting in grant or manuscript preparation
  5. biostatistical support
  6. buyout of clinical time
  7. other “extra hands” support as proposed by the applicant

Funds cannot be used for research costs such as supplies or sequencing costs that would not directly help Scholars reclaim their research time. Such costs would be expected to be covered by a Scholar’s main research grant.

Applicants are strongly encouraged to consult the Duke Office of Clinical Research (DOCR) prior to application to discuss possible uses of funds. DOCR provides support for personnel performing clinical research across the Duke organization and offers a wide array of services within that spectrum. Applicants are encouraged, but not required, to consult with DOCR about potential availability of resources for this program.

Faculty who are interested in using funds for biostatistics or other quantitative support and who do not already have a quantitative collaborator should consider contacting CTSI BERD (Biostatistics, Epidemiology, and Research Design Methods Core [previously known as Biostatistics Core]) to discuss potential opportunities for collaboration. Visit to learn more and submit a request. The BERD Core requests two-month notice to develop new collaborations. Please indicate that you will be submitting an internal grant proposal and contact them as early as possible. 

**Important Note: In keeping with the wishes expressed in Doris Duke’s will, experiments that utilize animals or primary tissues derived from animals will not be supported by this program.**

Application and Selection Process

Applications are online and consist of the following components:

  1. Application form including project title, description (<250 words), contact information and % professional effort devoted to research.
  2. Statement of individual need, including a description of care giving responsibilities and how an award from the Fund would improve the balance between care giving and professional responsibilities.  Details such as the number of children/parents requiring care, any special needs of children/family members, spouse/partner career if applicable, proximity to family support, cultural expectations from family, and a clear explanation of how funds will benefit the faculty member will be helpful for the review.
  3. Research plan in the NIH format of Specific Aims, Significance, Innovation and Approach (no more than 3 pages, including figures, images, tables, etc., but excluding references), written so that it can be readily understood by reviewers outside of the applicant’s research field.  The research plan should give reviewers an understanding of the research that will benefit from this award.
  4. NIH-style Biosketch (5-page limit) that contains information about the training history, faculty position, a personal statement, scientific impact of research to date, publications and current research support (source, type, summary of goals, PI and role) as well as the amount of current research support and the individual’s percent effort dedicated to each award listed.
  5. Proposed budget for the supplemental award, using the NIH detailed budget format. Budgets must outline direct costs and include a budget justification for each requested person or item. The budget should be page 1, and the justification should follow. Requests for salary support must include fringe benefits. The total request (including fringe) must not exceed $50,000/year.  More guidance on the NIH detailed budget is available at A sample budget justification is available for download here. If a particular section does not apply to your application, please leave this section blank on your budget.
  6. Letter of support from the individual’s Department Chair, Division Chief, or Center/Institute Director. The letter should identify the applicant’s primary research mentor/mentoring team. It should also indicate if departmental matching funds will be provided.
  7. A statement attesting that no animals or primary tissues derived from animals will be used in the research supported by these funds.

Please e-mail the Office for Faculty no later than October 15, 2020 to let us know if you plan to apply. This e-mail can be very brief, is non-binding, and will help us gauge resources needed to facilitate the selection process. 

Click here to access the online application now

If you already have a MyResearchProposal account please login with your username and password and type "SOM" as the access code in the upper right-hand corner. Please do NOT create a new account. For further instructions about how to setup your account and begin you application, click here. For any questions or concerns with the MyResearchProposal system, please contact Anita Brantley or Lesia O'Hara at 919-668-4774 or via email at

Selection Criteria

Fund applications will be competitively selected through an internal peer-review process. Applications will be evaluated based on the following selection criteria:

  • Quality of the research plan
  • Strength of letter of support
  • Evidence of strong training and productivity
  • Personal need

Applicants should clearly outline plans to begin using awarded funds on or close to January 1, 2021.

Award Administration

Applicants will be notified of their funding status in October. Funds will become available January 1. Awards will be for 1 year. Dependent upon the availability of funds, recipients may apply for one additional year of funding, and/or a no-cost extension. Click here to learn more about the process for extensions or and renewals.

Selected Fund scholars will be connected with a variety of mentoring resources, including up to 4 executive coaching sessions, priority registration for popular faculty development programs, and mentoring meetings with Vice Dean for Faculty Ann Brown, MD, MHS.  All scholars and applicants will be encouraged to enroll in the Office of Physician Scientist Development Scholars program to receive concierge mentoring services and access to an array of professional development seminars. The School of Medicine’s Office of Research Development will prioritize Fund scholars for editing and critical review of their external grant application materials 5-6 weeks in advance of submission. 

Program Evaluation

The Fund to Retain Clinical Scientists at Duke is one of 10 Fund programs established nationally through a grant program from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. The impact of this new program is being evaluated as part of an IRB-approved research study conducted by principal investigator Reshma Jagsi, MD, DPhil, at the University of Michigan Health System (UM). Applicants will be asked to complete a survey conducted by UM, separate from the application form outlined above. Application data, excluding personal essays and letters of nomination will be provided to Dr. Jagsi. Data submitted for this evaluation project will be de-identified. UM researchers will also collect longitudinal data on promotion and retention rates and may invite all applicants – regardless of whether they were selected for funding – to participate in follow-up surveys and interviews.


Still have questions?

Please contact the School of Medicine Office for Faculty at or 919.684.4139 or check our growing list of Frequently Asked Questions