Mary Duke Biddle Trent Semans Center for Health Education Opens

The Mary Duke Biddle Trent Semans Center for Health Education is the first new home for medical education at Duke since 1930.  The new six-story, 104,000-square-foot health education building opened to students in January, featuring a floor dedicated to simulation laboratories that can transform from mock clinical exam rooms to surgery suites and emergency rooms.

Construction of the $53 million Trent Semans Center took two years and was paid for almost entirely with philanthropic contributions, including $35 million from The Duke Endowment, part of a $50 million gift in 2008 that was the largest ever received by Duke Medicine. Alumni, friends, faculty, staff, and medical students and their parents also generously supported the building fund.

Learning Center Under Construction

The new facility is centrally located on the medical center campus, close to Duke University Hospital, laboratory and research buildings, medical clinics, the Duke Cancer Center and a new hospital addition, Duke Medicine Pavilion, which will open in June 2013.

“The location of this building near our new hospital pavilion, our Cancer Center, and our clinical operations and research facilities, puts medical education where it belongs – at the heart of everything we do. Duke has a long history of innovation, and now we have a facility that will allow our faculty and students to shape the future of medical education – and the future leaders of health and medicine,” said Victor J. Dzau, M.D., chancellor for health affairs and president and CEO of Duke University Health System.

In addition to the simulation labs, the Trent Semans Center also includes a ground floor auditorium, a learning hall, and flexible, state-of-the-art classrooms with moveable walls and chairs to accommodate team-based activities. Spaces on the third and fourth floors provide dedicated study rooms for students and areas where faculty and trainees can meet informally.

Students in the new Learning Hall
Students in the new Learning Hall

“Until now, the School of Medicine didn’t have a centralized space where faculty and students could interact, both formally and informally,” said Edward G. Buckley, M.D., vice dean for medical education. “The Trent Semans Center will lead to many great interactions – planned and unplanned –among students, residents, fellows, postdocs, faculty, and staff that will transform medical education at Duke.”

“The School of Medicine recruits exceptionally talented students who become leaders in medicine and science,” said Nancy C. Andrews, M.D., Ph.D., dean of Duke University School of Medicine. “The new Trent Semans Center for Health Education will be a spectacular place for them to begin their professional education.” 

Mary Duke Biddle Trent Semans
Mary Duke Biddle Trent Semans

“The Trent Semans Center is unlike any facility the medical school has ever had. The new training environment with the simulation labs is incredible,” said Tanmay Gokhale, a fourth-year M.D.,Ph.D. candidate who was one of 40 students tapped to participate in the building’s planning process. “The building also encourages collaboration and sharing among students. The medical education space at Duke used to be very fragmented, but now students from all four years can gather together in one location to learn from one another.”

The facility is named in honor of the late Mary Duke Biddle Trent Semans, who died January 25, 2012, at the age of 91. Semans was the granddaughter of Benjamin Newton Duke, who was one of the chief benefactors of Trinity College that later became Duke University. Semans was a trustee of The Duke Endowment for 55 years and served as its first female chair from 1982-2001.

Press Release