Physician-Scientist Strong Start Awards Program

In 2016, a gift from the Duke Endowment established the School of Medicine’s Physician-Scientist Strong Start Awards Program. The vision of this gift was to create a perpetual awards program for promising, new physician-scientists at Duke as they develop independent research programs. The awards program is designed to support investigators after their first faculty appointment, and before promotion to the rank of Associate Professor. Strong Start awards will be granted in a competitive application process based on scientific merit and academic potential.


The School of Medicine (SoM) is pleased to announce its annual RFP for the Duke Physician-Scientist “Strong Start” Award. This goal of this program is to nurture the careers of young, laboratory-based physician-scientists at Duke. By offering substantive mentoring and financial resources, this award will support junior, physician-scientist faculty during a critical period of their career, the transition to research independence.

This award program is intentionally designed to integrate with other Duke initiatives that train physician-scientists at even earlier points in their career, such as the Medical Scientist Training Program (MD-PhD students) and the Lefkowitz Society (clinical residents and fellows). In this way, the “Strong Start” Award Program will ensure that Duke University School of Medicine remains a leader in the training of outstanding physician-scientists, a group uniquely committed to the advancement of the medical sciences in our own community and in the nation.


  •  In 2018, the SoM will grant approximately three awards of $70,000/year, renewable up to three consecutive years ($210,000 total).
  • It is anticipated that this award will be offered on an annual basis. The funds are to be used at the discretion the individual recipient to support their research program, not for use by the department


  • At the time of application, candidates will have a primary faculty appointment within a department in the Duke University School of Medicine, prior to advancement to the rank of Associate Professor.
  • Candidates will be physician-scientists who have completed some form of clinical training (residency/fellowship) after receiving their doctoral degree.
  • Candidates should be pursuing outstanding studies in lab-based research.
  • The funds are to be used at the discretion the individual recipient to support their research program, not for use by the department.

Selection criteria

  • Applications should include the following:
    • Curriculum vitae
    • Research proposal/Career development plans: Written summary of (1) past research experience, (2) future research proposal, (3) specific plans to transition to scientific independence (e.g., securing independent research funding, developing independent scientific program) (not to exceed 3 pages)
    • Two letters of reference, including one from the primary department chair
  • Applications will be accepted annually.
  • Applications will be reviewed by a panel of Duke clinicians and scientists, ranking proposals by the following criteria:
    • Applicant: promise of successful career as a physician-scientist
    • Research proposal: scientific merit of proposed investigations and potential impact on the science of medicine
    • Likely impact of the award on the career of the applicant
  • Final award decisions will be made by the Dean of the Duke University School of Medicine, in consultation with an Internal Advisory Committee.
  • Candidates who bring demographic diversity to the SoM faculty are particularly encouraged to apply.

Deadlines and Notification

  • A single pdf file containing all application material should be submitted to prior to March 1, 2018. Please submit applications from a email address.
  • Successful applicants will be informed by April 15, 2018.