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Holly Lewis, MD, PhD

House Staff
Harvard University
Medical School: 
Emory University

Clinical and Research Interests

My clinical & research interests include tissue engineering and reconstructive surgery. I completed my MD and PhD at Emory University with a focus in immunology and chemical biology. My training included human stem cell culture, flow cytometry, and mammalian models of skin and gut-antigen sensitization. With the Duke School of Engineering, I am developing hydrogel and cell therapy technologies in skin grafts and wound healing. My interests also include reconstructive transplantation of the face, hand, uterus and abdominal wall. I have found excellent mentors at Duke Surgery, in particular with the Divisions of Transplant Surgery and Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery.

I am passionate about addressing disparities in healthcare, and the use of bioinformatics to better understand social determinants of health. Duke Surgery has a number of talented surgeon-scientists who share these goals; my computer programming skills have improved in my time here. I am working with members of the breast oncology group to study differences in survival observed in national cancer databases, and have another project examining the association of psychosocial factors with breast infections and dehiscence. With faculty from Duke Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, I am leading the Duke Study on Gender Health and Wellness During Covid-19, an initiative to understand how the pandemic has impacted transgender and non-binary patients nationwide.

What were you looking for in a residency program?

When I was applying to residency, the key factor was finding an institution made of quality residents and faculty, who enjoy working together to effect positive changes in our patients and community. I wanted to be in an academic setting, but one that would also help me gain skills in a breadth of general surgery. I wanted to live in a place that was affordable, diverse, and welcoming to work. I can happily say that Duke has satisfied each one of these goals I had for my ideal residency program.

What are the strengths of the Duke program?

The General Surgery residency program is a strong group of patient advocates, friends and clinical mentors who I genuinely enjoy being around. From the days of my first interview through my intern year, I have worked with chief residents and faculty who represent the kind of physician I aspire to be: caring about the details and the big picture, taking ownership of our role in the healthcare world, and doing what needs to be done to help others. The research opportunities at Duke—from its amazing engineering school, the robust community of public health and social scientists, to its on-campus vivarium for surgical research—is the ideal space for interdisciplinary academic medicine. There is a strong sense of community here amongst GME housestaff: whether anesthesia, medicine, gynecology, or pediatrics, I have found clinical interactions on the wards, units and floors to be marked by mutual respect and cooperation.

What advice do you have for incoming interns?

Enjoy your last bit of vacation before residency—travel, be with your family or loved ones. Take Step 3 if you can swing it—it’s a nice box to check off and clear your to-do list before life as a Surgeon begins. Talk on the phone with your loved ones during commuting hours. Communicate often with your co-residents—load the boat early and never worry alone. Learn to trust your floor nursing staff, be kind and considerate to periOp staff, and be a team player with PAs, NPs and all housestaff. Remember we’re all in this together. Realize that as much as you try to prepare, July 1 will be a lot—but you can do it!!

What do you like best about living in Durham and the Triangle?

I love living in the Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill area. I spent the last several years in Atlanta, another southern city with diverse nightlife, people and ways of life. I have found Durham to also be a liberal city, one with music, nightlife and is accepting of folks from all walks of life. It’s also a great place for bicycles—from where I live I can access the Duke Campus, the Tobacco Trail and Downtown Durham without much difficulty. Raleigh has a number of excellent restaurants and night clubs, and as the state capitol, I have been able to take part in political organizing marches. Chapel Hill/Carrboro also has excellent pubs and restaurants, but my favorite Indian food is in Morrisville.

What do you like to do outside of Duke?

I enjoy running on the six miles of forested trails in my neighborhood, and go hiking or camping as often as my schedule allows. I’ve made great friends in the Triangle area through a pickup rec league, Durham Queer Sports, a group of LGBTQ folks from across the region; we play kickball or indoor soccer once a month. I love live music and performance art, and have discovered amazing shows and local artists at the Pinhook, the Fruit, and Fullsteam Brewery. I purchased a condo in my intern year, where I live comfortably with my tabby cat Miles, 15 minutes from the hospital.


Lewis, Holly C., and Linda C. Cendales. “Vascularized composite allotransplantation in the United States: A retrospective analysis of the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network data after 5 years of the Final Rule.” Am J Transplant 21, no. 1 (January 2021): 291–96.

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Nguyen, Doan C., Holly C. Lewis, Chester Joyner, Vivien Warren, Haopeng Xiao, Haydn T. Kissick, Ronghu Wu, Jacques Galipeau, and F Eun-Hyung Lee. “Extracellular vesicles from bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stromal cells support ex vivo survival of human antibody secreting cells.” Journal of Extracellular Vesicles 7, no. 1 (December 1, 2018): 1463778–1463778.

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Bernstein, Sarah M., and Holly C. Lewis. “The World Was Not Built for Us: Improving Access to Care for Transgender Youth.” Pediatrics 142, no. 6 (December 2018): e20182781–e20182781.

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Lewis, Holly C., Raghavan Chinnadurai, Steven E. Bosinger, and Jacques Galipeau. “The IDO inhibitor 1-methyl tryptophan activates the aryl hydrocarbon receptor response in mesenchymal stromal cells.” Oncotarget 8, no. 54 (November 3, 2017): 91914–27.

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Lewis, Holly. “"Sickle and Flow: Translational Science and Arts," section in "How do Black Lives Matter in Teaching, Lab Practices, and Research?".” Catalyst: feminsim, theory, technoscience, 2017.


Lewis, Holly, Ann Singh, and Karen Parker. “Intersectionality: A Grants-Thinking Workshop with the Director of the NIH Sexual and Gender Minorities Research Office.,” 2017.


Lewis, Holly, and Jacques Galipeau. “Mesenchymal Stromal Cells for Treatment of Autoimmune Diseases.” In The Biology and Therapeutic Application of Mesenchymal Cells - Set, edited by Kerry Atkinson. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, 2016.


Chinnadurai, Raghavan, Ian B. Copland, Marco A. Garcia, Christopher T. Petersen, Christopher N. Lewis, Edmund K. Waller, Allan D. Kirk, and Jacques Galipeau. “Cryopreserved Mesenchymal Stromal Cells Are Susceptible to T-Cell Mediated Apoptosis Which Is Partly Rescued by IFNγ Licensing.” Stem Cells 34, no. 9 (September 2016): 2429–42.

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Oyoshi, Michiko K., Jacqueline Beaupré, Nicholas Venturelli, Christopher N. Lewis, Yoichiro Iwakura, and Raif S. Geha. “Filaggrin deficiency promotes the dissemination of cutaneously inoculated vaccinia virus.” Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology 135, no. 6 (June 2015): 1511-1518.e6.

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Lewis, Christopher, Raghavan Chinnadurai, and Jacques Galipeau. “Tryptophan Catabolites Directly Modulate the Immunosuppressive Effects of MSCs via Activation of the Endogenous Aryl Hydrocarbon Receptor.,” 2014.