School of Medicine Faculty and Student Recognized at Samuel Dubois Cook Society Awards Ceremony

Wednesday, February 20, 2019
group of 11 award recipients and leaders

President Vincent Price joins the 2019 Cook Society Award winners. Photo by Deryle A. Daniels Jr.

Faculty and a student from the School of Medicine were recognized at the Samuel Dubois Cook Society awards ceremony held Tuesday, February 19, 2019, at the Washington Duke Inn. The Samuel DuBois Cook Society honors Dr. Cook, a retired Duke University professor who was the first African-American professor to hold a regular faculty appointment at a predominantly white college or university in the South. The society recognizes the years of service that Dr. Cook has offered to Duke University, to the cause of African-American advancement, and to the betterment of relations between people of all backgrounds. 

Onye Emmanuel Akwari, MD, professor of surgery, received the Raymond Gavins Distinguished Faculty Award. Joining the Duke faculty in 1978 as an associate professor, Akwari was the first African-American faculty member in the Department of Surgery and the second tenure-track faculty member in the School of Medicine. Not only was he a mentor to many staff, students and junior faculty, he also played key roles in university leadership, including several terms on the Academic Council and on its Executive Committee.

Brenda Armstrong, MD, former associate dean for admissions and senior associate dean for student diversity, recruitment, and retention at the Duke University School of Medicine, was also honored at the event. Armstrong, a former member of the Samuel DuBois Cook Society, died Oct. 7, 2018. She was one of the pioneering African-American undergraduate students at Duke and returned to the university as a faculty member and served in leadership roles at the School of Medicine for more than 20 years.  She was also a well-known mentor to Durham children, particularly through the Durham Striders Track Club.

Dionna Monique Gamble, a fifth year PhD candidate in the Genetics and Genomics Program, won the Samuel DuBois Cook Society Award. She serves as co-president of the Duke Bouchet Society, a graduate student organization that supports minority graduate students in STEM fields. As part of this work, she helps organize and support the Ida Stephens Owens Black Tie Dinner, which honors the first African-American woman to receive a PhD from Duke.

Daniel Lew, PhD, James B. Duke Professor of Pharmacology and Cancer Biology, was awarded the faculty award for Equity, Diversity, & Inclusion for his leadership in creating a more diverse and inclusive environment at Duke University and Duke Health.

Information about other awards recipients from across campus can be found On Duke Today.