A Bold New Effort Aims to Harness the Mechanisms of Resilience

Duke University in 2019 initiated a university-wide effort to elevate and sustain excellence in the sciences with new funding for research, recruitment of nationally recognized scholars, and retainment of highly regarded scientific leaders at Duke. Launched with a $100 million investment from The Duke Endowment — divided equally between the university and the School of Medicine — Duke Science and Technology (DST) positions Duke to maximize the potential of revolutionary advances in fields such as genomics, data science, and artificial intelligence.

The effort focuses on three broad thematic pillars: Resilience: Fortifying the Body and Brain, which seeks to harness the body’s intrinsic mechanisms to fight disease; Computing, involving fields such as artificial intelligence and machine learning; and Materials Science, which seeks to engineer new materials to solve challenges in disparate fields.

School of Medicine researchers are leading in efforts to advance the Body and Brain Resilience pillar, focusing on four broad areas where Duke has significant strengths: brain, cancer, immunology, and viruses. Seven DST Scholars have been recruited as faculty in the School of Medicine.

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School of Medicine DST News and Videos

Developing a Universal Flu Vaccine


Unlocking Secrets of the Brain

Carolyn Coyne, PhD: Exploring How Viruses Evade the Placental Barrier

The human placenta performs a delicate balancing act: it must let beneficial nutrients pass from the mother to the developing fetus, but block harmful pathogens from making the same trip. Carolyn Coyne, PhD, investigates how the placenta has evolved to be such a fantastic protector but can also be vulnerable to pathogens.

Ed Miao, PhD: Moves and Countermoves in the Immune System

When certain immune cells in our bodies are invaded by a dangerous pathogen, they sacrifice themselves to vanquish the intruders.

Immunologist Ed Miao, MD, PhD, studies pyroptosis — a type of programmed cell death in which a cell, once compromised by an enemy pathogen, literally blows itself up to prevent the pathogen from spreading in the body.

Zhao Zhang, PhD: Follow the Jumping Genes

Zhao Zhang, PhD — ZZ to just about everyone — is a bit of a scientific outlier. While most of his bioscience colleagues around the world are studying the 23,000 protein-coding genes that make us human, the assistant professor of pharmacology and cancer biology is looking at the other part of the genome and asking what it does.

Duke Science and Technology is ‘Accepting the Challenge’

With a few large leadership gifts and some strategically placed advertising in national media, Duke University is launching a new fundraising effort designed to elevate excellence in the sciences. The faculty recruitment and retention effort, called Duke Science and Technology, will give the university resources to expand core strengths in Duke’s research, extending to nearly every corner of the university.

Discovery of I-Shaped Antibody Opens New Avenue to HIV Vaccine

About 38 million people worldwide are living with AIDS. Pharmaceutical treatments can keep the disease in check, but a vaccine remains elusive despite decades of concerted effort. However, a recent discovery at the Duke Human Vaccine Institute (DHVI) brings the goal of an effective vaccine within reach.

Longtime Donor Establishes a Presidential Distinguished Chair

One day when Carol Deane was an undergraduate biology student at Lake Forest College, a private liberal arts university north of Chicago, she happened to pick up a magazine. 

“That was back when they had those Save the Children ads that said, ‘You can save this child for 10 cents a day, or you can turn the page,’” says Deane, who recently completed a six-year tenure as chair of the Duke University School of Medicine Board of Visitors. “Well, I couldn’t turn the page.”

Getting Personal with Blood Cancers

For most cancers, advances in genomics haven’t changed treatment strategies very much. Sandeep Dave, MD, MS, envisions making personalized treatment a reality for more patients, by developing and making better use of tools that already exist.

Zhao Zhang (ZZ), PhD, Named a 2021 Pew Scholar in the Biomedical Sciences

Zhao Zhang (ZZ), PhD, assistant professor of pharmacology and cancer biology in the School of Medicine, has been named a 2021 Pew Scholar in the Biomedical Sciences. The award provides four years of exploratory research funding to young investigators of outstanding promise as they investigate timely questions surrounding health and disease. Zhang is one of 22 scholars to receive the award this year.

$100 million to advance Duke science and technology research

The Duke Endowment of Charlotte, N.C., is supporting Duke University’s efforts to expand its faculty in computation, materials science and the resilience of the body and brain by completing the second phase of a $100 million investment.

This is the largest award Duke University has ever received.