Collage of three pictures. Faculty at tables in conversation. Program binder with papers.

If you are a faculty member starting out in your research career, you are in charge of leading a team that will drive one of the most critically important professional enterprises of your life. Leading this group successfully will depend not only on the outstanding scientific skills you have honed, but it will also require a host of other skills. You will need to effectively manage a talented group of people, pilot successful collaborations within and outside of your group, deftly navigate the complexities of the institution, adeptly manage the inevitable conflicts that arise in a high stakes environment, tackle the challenges of running a small business, and inspire others to do their best so that your scientific vision is realized. 

If you want to learn to meet these challenges with more confidence, consider applying for the Duke LEADER program.

This interactive 5-month series is designed for junior faculty who are leading a research group. It will provide insight into leadership and team building as well as direction on how to develop and manage a scientific laboratory or research program, how to improve productivity, and how to harness creativity and innovation. It will provide tools to use in navigating conflict with confidence. This program provides a unique opportunity to work with a diverse and multidisciplinary group of faculty and to network with other researchers from across the university.

Applications for the 2024 cohort are now closed.

Applications for the 2025 cohort will open in the fall of 2024.

Sessions will address topics such as:

  • Learning to be an effective mentor and creating your career panel
  • Fostering inclusion in your research space
  • Developing negotiation skills
  • Managing conflict with confidence
  • Understanding team dynamics
  • And more

Course Format and Tools

This 5-month leadership program will consist of individual and group exercises as well as lectures and discussions designed for junior investigators.  
Participants will be required to complete two personal inventory assessments online prior to the course:  an personality assessment and the Skillscope 360° Assessment (360). These tools provide an opportunity to receive constructive feedback that is strictly developmental, not evaluative. More information about these tools will be given upon course acceptance.

Program Schedule

The LEADER program is a highly interactive 5-month series that includes lectures, small group discussions, group exercises, and personal reflection. The course content is delivered by leadership experts from both inside and outside Duke. These instructors have extensive experience working within academics and have received high marks from past program participants. The program schedule lists the instructors and has links to their bios. Participants will also have the opportunity to interact with senior faculty researchers from within the Duke community. 

Participation in the LEADER program costs $1,500. Applicants must provide information about who will support their tuition costs at the time of application. Tuition payments must be made via departmental charge, tuition cannot be paid with sponsored codes. This one-time payment covers all aspects of course participation, including administration of the personality based assessment and 360, meals during the course, and inclusion in follow-up alumni programs at no additional charge.

The most competitive applicants will be junior faculty who are leading a research team and have clearly identified research as the principal focus of their career. Applications from both basic and clinical sciences are encouraged. Applicants must have the support of their department chairs in order to participate. Participants will be selected based on the following criteria:

  • Junior faculty beginning a career directing a scientific laboratory or research program.
  • Clear commitment to a research career.
  • Strength of personal statement in defining why the applicant wants to attend the course and why the applicant should be selected.
  • Commitment to attend the entire course.
  • Letter of nomination from Department Chair, Division Chief, Institute or Center Director stating a commitment to the applicant’s career and support for the applicant to attend the entire course, the letter must also note who will cover tuition the costs.

All components of the application should be completed prior to the deadline. No components will be accepted after the deadline.

Interested applicants should discuss their potential participation with their supervisor (Department Chair, Division Chief, Institute or Center Director) in advance of their application to ensure their willingness to provide the required letter of support. Understanding that this time commitment is significant for a junior investigator, this discussion should acknowledge and confirm the requirement that, if accepted, the participants must attend the entire course. This conversation should also include a discussion of who will pay the required tuition costs if the applicant is accepted.  Admission to the course will be determined on a competitive basis. Please have the following ready to upload before you begin filling out the application. You will NOT be able to save the application and return to it later.

  • 200-word essay describing why you should be selected to participate in the course
  • NIH Biosketch or CV if you do not have an NIH Biosketch
  • Letter of nomination from Department Chair, Division Chief, or Center/Institute Director
  • The name and e-mail address of the person who will provide your tuition payment 

Apply now

Applications Open: Mid September
Applications Due: Friday, November 3, 2023
Notification of Acceptance: Late December 2023
MBTI and 360 Due: 

  • MBTI assessment - Friday, March 1, 2023
  • 360 Skillscope - Friday, March 15, 2023

Course dates