Physician-Scientist Strong Start Awards Program

Application Deadline: October 1, 2021

OVERVIEW: The School of Medicine (SoM) and the Office for Physician-Scientist Development (OPSD) are pleased to announce the annual RFP for the Duke Physician-Scientist “Strong Start” Award. The goal of this program is to nurture the careers of junior, 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 and complement 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 R38 Stimulating Access to Research during Residency Program (StARR, clinical residents). 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.

FUNDING: In 2022, the SoM will grant approximately five awards of $75,000/year, renewable up to three consecutive years ($225,000 total/awardee).  It is anticipated that this award will be offered on an annual basis. The funds are to be used at the discretion of the individual recipient to support their research program.


  • At the time of application, candidates will be faculty members within a department in the Duke University School of Medicine, prior to advancement to the rank of Associate Professor.
  • Candidates will be physician-scientists (M.D., D.O.) who have completed clinical training (residency/fellowship) after receiving their doctoral degree.
  • Candidates will be leading laboratory-based research programs in basic or translational research.
  • Expectation of departmental support for significant protected research time (up to 70%).
  • Candidates with significant internal/external funding (R01 [or equivalent] or >$500,000 in start-up funding) are not eligible for funding.
  • Please see OPSD Partner Programs: Strong Start for program metrics.

 PROCESS: Applications should include the following:

  • NIH biosketch with other support (including internal funds available to candidate)
  • Research proposal/Career development plans (not to exceed 3 pages): 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)
  • Two letters of reference, including one from the primary department chair specifying percentage of protected time to pursue laboratory-based research.

 Applications must be submitted prior to October 1, 2021. Proposals are submitted via Duke’s MyResearchProposal online submission system. To apply, visit, click on “Create New User” or log in if you already have an account (do not create a 2nd account).

  • Here is a Step-by-step user’s guide for applying via the MyResearchProposal software.
  • Enter Access Code ‘OPSD’ then select the “Strong Start 2022” funding opportunity and follow the instructions.
  • For questions concerning MyResearchProposal (passwords or system issues), please contact Anita Grissom or Brittany Sadler at or 919-668-4774.

AWARDS NOTIFICATION: Successful applicants will be informed by early January 2022.