Austin Eckhoff, MD
Clinical and Research Interests
I am interested in surgical oncology, particularly in hepato-pancreato-biliary surgery. I am really excited to be joining Dr. Peter Allen and Dr. Smita Nair this year as a lab resident. The main focus of my research will studying the role of immune dysregulation in intraductal papillary mucinous neoplasms (IPMN) and predicting progression to pancreatic cancer.
What were you looking for in a residency program?
I was looking for a residency program with a strong surgical experience, a close-knit group of residents, and well supported research opportunities. When interviewing, its hard to really see the difference among programs and truly measure those three traits.
Duke has exceeded my expectations. We have a good balance of variety of care through our different local hospitals but the residents are not spread to thin and I feel like we get enough experience with each attending that they get to know us as individuals and start teaching towards our individual strengths. Never did I think I would be confident to perform an appendectomy by my first year or a cholecystectomy by my second but with the coaching of my attending mentors, I feel proud to say that I am.
When it came to deciding my research project, I had multiple mentors who were truly invested in my individual success and not only discussed my individual project but how to create a research plan that extends throughout residency and prepares me for fellowship applications. I really appreciate that my mentors focused on shaping my career as a whole and even though I am just starting in the lab, I have an abundance of opportunities and projects planned.
Additionally, I feel very close to the residents and they have truly served as family. One of my favorite things about Duke is that if I am on call over a weekend, my husband often spends the weekend biking and hanging out with other residents who are off. I think the fact that they include him and he is often attends resident parties without me illustrates how welcoming the community is.
What do you like best about living in Durham and the Triangle?
I think the best thing about Durham is how easy is it to access the vibrant surrounding nature. In residency, often your time away from the hospital is short. I love that I can drive 15 minutes to a great hike or one of the lakes to go stand up paddle boarding. Also, its great that we can easily afford a backyard - my husband and I love letting our dog run around, having residents over for BBQ and bonfires, and trying our hand at gardening and most of our friends live a short walk or drive away.
What do you like to do outside of Duke?
I enjoy cooking, hosting friends, gardening, and hiking many of the trails surrounding Durham.