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 LEADER 2022 program are due November 12, 2021.


Sessions will address topics such as:

  • Leading with Emotional Intelligence
  • Learning to be an effective mentor
  • Fostering inclusion in your research space
  • Developing negotiation skills
  • Managing conflict with confidence
  • Balancing competing priorities
  • 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.  Leadership experts from both inside and outside Duke will provide course content.
Participants will be required to complete two personal inventory assessments online prior to the course:  an Emotional Intelligence assessment and the Skillscope 360° Assessment (360). These tools provide an opportunity to receive constructive feedback that is strictly developmental, not evaluative.

The 360 will require completion by you AND by members of your team. You will be asked to complete an online self-assessment and to solicit a minimum of five other individuals to complete a comparable questionnaire about you. We will recommend that you ask people who you know well and whose feedback you cannot lightly dismiss to be your raters. You will be encouraged to ask a mix of superiors, peers, direct reports and others, as well as your direct supervisor. You will be provided with a confidential analysis of this rich feedback during the course, and will use it to understand how others view your job-related strengths and weaknesses, and to compare these with your self-perceptions. The tool is meant to provide non-judgmental insight about your leadership. This feedback, combined with the course content, should enable you to craft an effective plan to acquire the skills and experience needed to reach your goals.

More information about these tools will be given upon course acceptance.
Significant time will also be devoted to discussions and exercises around conflict management and difficult conversations. Participants will discuss case studies and will practice coaching in conflict scenarios. 

Our goal is to hold this program in-person, following all COVID health and safety protocols. In the event that in-person delivery is no longer feasible we will shift to a virtual delivery format. All presenters are familiar with Zoom-delivery and have experience delivering this content in a highly-interactive online format. Any changes in the delivery format will be communicated directly with program participants.

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, parking, and inclusion in follow-up alumni programs at no additional charge. If tuition is a hardship that will prevent you from participating please contact to discuss whether a scholarship might be available.

All junior faculty researchers are eligible to apply. Applications from faculty who have identified research as the principal focus of their career will be most competitive. Applicants must have the support of their department chairs in order to participate. A selection committee composed of senior Duke faculty will select the class of participants 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 


Click here to apply

Applications Open: Mid September
Applications Due: Friday, November 12, 2021
Notification of Acceptance: Late December 2021
Emotional Intelligence and 360 Due: 

  • Emotional Intelligence assessment - Friday, March 11, 2022
  • 360 - Friday April 1, 2022

Course dates