Six Faculty Receive Physician-Scientist Strong Start Awards

Six Duke University School of Medicine faculty members have been selected to receive 2024 Physician-Scientist “Strong Start” awards. The awards program, funded with a gift from the Nanaline H. Duke Fund, supports promising, early career physician-scientists at Duke as they develop independent research programs.  

Each recipient will receive $75,000 annually for three years to support their research programs.  Since 2017, 41 faculty have been awarded more than $9 million from Strong Start. 

This year’s recipients are:  


Tarannum Jaleel, MD; Neill Li, MD; Justin Low, MD, PhD
  • Tarannum Jaleel, MD, assistant professor of dermatology  
  • Neill Li, MD, assistant professor of orthopaedic surgery   
  • Justin Low, MD/PhD, medical instructor in the Department Neurosurgery 
Sara Nystrom, MD; Mara Serbanescu, MD; Aaron Vose, MD
  • Sara Nystrom, MD, medical instructor in the Department of Medicine   
  • Mara Serbanescu, MD, assistant professor in anesthesiology 
  • Aaron Vose, MD, medical instructor in the Department of Medicine  


The Strong Start program is administered by the School of Medicine’s Office for Physician-Scientist Development (OPSD) and integrates with other physician-scientist development programs, including the Medical Scientist Training Program (MD-PhD students) and the Lefkowitz Society (clinical residents and fellows).  

“The Strong Start Program is a vital investment by the Nanaline H. Duke Fund and the School of Medicine in our junior physician-scientist faculty,” said Rasheed Gbadegesin, MD, associate dean for physician scientist development in the School of Medicine. “Our physician-scientist faculty are the bedrock of discovery science, and their success is vital for the future of medicine.”