Listing of Current Interdisciplinary Colloquia

The Duke University School of Medicine provides support for interdisciplinary colloquia that bring together basic science, translational and clinical faculty members with common interests in a biomedical problem or area. Recipients of funding for 2018-2019 are listed below: 


Behavioral Research and Incentive Science Colloquium (BRISC)

Lead: Charles Scales

Description: The purpose of the Behavioral Research and Incentive Science Colloquium (BRISC) is to develop an intellectual home for behavioral economic incentive science at Duke. The BRISC will facilitate (1) thought leadership in behavioral economics and medical decision-making; (2) engagement with Duke University Health System to leverage patient-, employee-, and provider-facing behavioral incentives to improve local care delivery and health, and (3) creation of multidisciplinary and interprofessional teams to generate grant applications and sustainable funding pathways to support behavioral economics research at Duke. The focus of the colloquium will be on three health-related domains: 1) fostering cardiometabolic health and wellness (e.g., increased physical activity); 2) increasing adherence to health behaviors (e.g., medication adherence); and, 3) leveraging behavioral economics to increase research participation (e.g., designing smarter research participant incentives). The meeting will open with a plenary session featuring Duke experts and a national keynote speaker. During the second half of the day, three health domain focus groups will convene for a facilitated discussion on opportunities to seek grants and apply behavioral economics principles in existing Duke patient care and research efforts.

Biomarkers for Precision Medicine Colloquia

Lead: Simon Gregory

Description: Biomarkers are used to indicate events such as the development of disease and infection, the outcome of environmental exposures, or the prediction of age-related outcomes and mortality. Accurate measurement of biomarkers in medicine not only facilitates early diagnosis but also provides clinicians with actionable information for the selection of the optimal therapies. The alignment of efforts to pair clinical cohorts with detailed phenotypic information, significant improvements in sensitivity of protein assays, and the development of new approaches towards multi-dimensional data analysis means that the use of protein biomarkers in precision medicine is entering an exciting new phase. This proposal is focussed in hosting a day-long colloquia to discuss study design, platforms, and applications in the field of protein Biomarkers for Precision Medicine. The outcome of this effort will be to develop a sustained working group whose mission is to disseminate the use and research and clinical implementation of protein biomarkers at Duke in the assessment of disease development, progression and resolution.

Confronting Bullying in Academia: A Conversation about Difficult Conversations

Lead: Ana Sanchez

Description: Bullying and harassment remain an under addressed in issue in academia owing to power imbalances, fear and resignation that contribute to student depression, anxiety, poor productivity and attrition. Harassment is aggressive pressure or intimidation, that is, bullying directed at any person, and particularly individuals made vulnerable by their sex, race, religion, etc.. Harassment can disproportionately affect women and transgender/gender non-conforming students, who have significantly high rates of depression and anxiety than their male counterparts. Though bullying and harassment have not been frequently discussed, recent events have led to a potential watershed moment for change. This proposed colloquium seeks to put Duke at the forefront of this change by creating a single, large-scale event that features a nationally recognized speaker on the issue of institutional bullying, panel discussion and session on the tools that individuals can use to address bullying. The colloquium will incorporate interactive, participatory activities contributing to the overall goal of Duke University to scrutinize the current climate within its academic units.

Developing a Duke Transdisciplinary Obesity Research Network

Lead: Matthew Roe

Description: The proposed colloquium is intended as a catalyst for the implementation of a transdisciplinary, campus-wide approach to obesity research including researchers across the spectrum of basic science, clinical research, population health, clinical informatics, data science, and health policy. The purpose of the colloquium is develop a strategic framework revolving around thematic areas identified during the pre-colloquium monthly meetings by members of Duke’s recently formed Transdisciplinary Obesity Consortium (TOC). The proposed 1.5-day colloquium will involve obesity researchers from key Duke departments and institutes, as well as leaders from the SOM, the Duke Health System, the Duke Institute for Health Innovation, and the Duke Forge Health Data Science Center. Researchers will give short, focused presentations about their obesity-related research, followed by interactive panel discussions. An Obesity Task Force will be created and charged to develop a strategic, campus-wide obesity research plan that will be expected to result in sustained success in procuring externally funded research projects.

Duke Interdisciplinary Sepsis Colloquium

Lead: Suresh Agarwal

Description: Inflammation, infection, sepsis and septic shock represent different aspects on a spectrum of disease that result in a tremendous burden on the health care community, both in terms of mortality and morbidity. Despite advances in management, sepsis continues to exert a tremendous toll on the health care community due to insufficient efforts in prevention, difficulty in early detection and differentiation, and limited success in treatment. Investigators from multiple fields have made efforts to decrease the impact that infection and its sequela may have on an individual. We have better understanding of the mechanism of infection and the immunologic response to injury; however, these mechanistic advances have not, yet, led to significant clinical advances. It is our goal to bring together scientists and clinicians from a wide variety of specialties so that we may better understand how sepsis is being addressed at Duke. Establishing deeper relationships between these two groups has the potential to impact-fully advance the care of this complicated group of patients.

Exercise is Medicine Across the Lifespan

Lead: Janet Bettger

Description: Physical activity promotes optimal health. Some benefits even happen immediately. Yet, there is a significant gap between the large body of scientific evidence supporting effective physical activity interventions and their delivery and implementation. Routine patient encounters do not assess or address physical inactivity. Referrals are not made to free and safe options for physical activity in the community. Many patients leave the hospital with recommendations to move and be active but without post-hospital guidance on when to progress or how. Some workplace policies exist counter to a healthy lifestyle. With the momentum of Healthy Duke, Duke’s involvement in Healthy Durham, Duke experts on the 2018 Physical Activity Guidelines Advisory Committee, and successful Duke-led intervention research across the lifespan, Duke is uniquely poised to disrupt the status quo. The proposed colloquium aims to first and foremost network interested individuals from across Duke Health, Duke University and Durham. The team of collaborators for this proposal are committed to launching an interdisciplinary colloquium that will advance on campus efforts, stimulate new research proposals with diverse  multidisciplinary teams, and establish real world evidence from health system improvements.

Identifying Pathogenic Non-Coding Mutations in Rare Mendelian Disease

Lead: Andrew Allen

Description: The genetic cause of many rare pediatric diseases remains unknown. Identifying that cause in even one patient could provide dramatic benefits by guiding treatment, improving insurance coverage and enabling genetic counseling. With tens of millions of rare disease patients in the US, the potential to improve healthcare is enormous. We have strong evidence that an under-appreciated fraction of rare disease cases are caused by genetic mutations that alter gene regulation instead of gene function. Identifying regulatory mutations causing rare disease is exceptionally challenging, but Duke is ideally positioned to do so. Over the past year, our multidisciplinary team has focused on this problem; and we have identified specific case studies where we can make near term impact and can demonstrate proof of concept for larger studies. This colloquium has two aims. First, we will increase awareness and expand the collaborative community working on this area of research at Duke. Second, we will submit NIH proposals to fund the case studies already identified. Through those aims, this colloquium will establish a sustainable research program to identify new causes of rare pediatric disease.

Interdisciplinary Medicine and Nursing Sickle Cell Disease Research Colloquium

Lead: Nirmish Shah

Description: The vast majority of patients with chronic hematologic disorders such as sickle cell disease (SCD), have significant comorbidities, such as stroke, pulmonary disease, and renal failure. Collaboration between School of Medicine subspecialists and investigators from multiple disciplines and the School of Nursing is therefore essential not only to treat affected patients but also to build a robust research environment to address the mechanisms of these diseases as well as to develop new and better therapies for them. The proposed Interdisciplinary Medicine and Nursing Sickle Cell Disease Research Colloquium will enhance and create basic, clinical and translational research opportunities at Duke University through a multidisciplinary meeting comprising basic, translational and clinical scientists across the university who are interested in aspects of SCD.

Multidisciplinary Symposia on Cryo-EM at Duke

Lead: Priyamvada Acharya

Description: This multidisciplinary symposia aims to explore the reality and promise of cryo-EM – an emerging methodology to visualize molecules and cells at atomic resolution. The Molecular Microscopy Consortium, a partnership between Duke University, the National Institute of Environmental and Health Sciences (NIEHS), and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, enables the use of single particle cryo-EM and other tools in molecular microscopy to researchers across North Carolina. The goals of this symposium are (1) to bring together a diverse group of interdisciplinary researchers at Duke and the Research Triangle Park (RTP) with expertise in cryo-EM and related techniques, (2) to establish a platform for exchange of knowledge, resources and ideas, (3) to identify critical areas for infrastructure and facility development, and (4) to engage and inform the larger community of biomedical researchers at Duke University and beyond of the power and future uses of this methodology leading to the fostering of interdisciplinary collaborative research and joint grant applications to multiple external agencies. 

Symposium on the Future of Surgery

Lead: Allan Kirk

Description: This symposium will bring faculty together to define the disruptive forces influencing surgery and map a strategy for investment in surgical care, research and education.

The North Carolina Summit on Child Health and Well-Being

Leads: Aaron McKethan, Charlene Wong, Beth Gifford, and Sallie Permar

Description: Early life, from the prenatal period through adolescence, has a profound impact on lifelong health and well-being. Based on this recognition, NC Governor Roy Cooper and the NC Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) have designated early childhood health and well-being to be a top policy and legislative priority for the state. Key challenges in this area include a) helping policy leaders stay up to speed on the research/evidence base regarding connections between early childhood experiences and health outcomes, b) identifying the most important, unanswered research questions that, if answered, could address gaps in evidence and inform near-term policymaking in this area, and c) gaining practical assistance in executing the resulting research agenda to answer the most important questions. While DHHS collects a vast amount of data on the citizens of NC, it lacks the resources, personnel, and expertise to efficiently leverage these data for child health policy or research purposes. The purpose of this multidisciplinary colloquium is to bring together child health researchers with state policy leaders to build partnerships and identify analytic priorities that can inform policies that impact child health and well-being, and to design a data-driven road map for improving child health in NC.