Research and Academic Development

University surgeons exist in an intensely multidisciplinary world. In this academic environment, where new techniques, technologies, and scientific perspectives are constantly being developed and evaluated, it is critical that trainees have the opportunity to acquire skills in experimental study design, execution, and evaluation.

The overarching goal of the research fellowship is to provide trainees the tools to engage at the highest levels in academic biomedical research and to develop a solid foundation for an academic career.

Whether this involves bench research, translational research, clinical trials, resident-led clinical outcomes research, study of social sciences, health systems, or education, we intend to provide a platform for robust scientific inquiry.

Hear from research resident Dr. Konstantinos Economopoulos


It is the ambition of the Department of Surgery at Duke University to develop surgeon-scientists who can deliver superlative clinical care and produce high-impact studies that will continue to raise the profile of this specialty as well as the reputation of our institution. All general surgery residents will prepare for and participate in a research fellowship. This will typically be two years but can be shorter or longer based on compelling circumstances. The research can include discovery-based activity across the spectrum from basic and translation to clinical and population-based work, so long as it is sufficiently impactful and ambitious. The trainee will be encouraged to craft a well-structured grant proposal and procure adequate funding to investigate their projects. To this end, the Department of Surgery at Duke University is committed to instructing, supporting, and supervising our trainees as they navigate what can often be complex grant application processes.

It is important that all trainees attempt to secure funding through grant proposals, as this affords valuable experience and insight in maneuvering a necessary component of an academic career. Should grant funding not be approved, up to two years of a trainee’s research stipend and benefits will be funded,  50% from the Department of Surgery and 50% from the Mentor/Division engaged in research. Cost-share for the trainee’s salary and supply expense will also be equally distributed amongst Department of Surgery and Mentor/Division funds. If the trainee should continue research beyond two years, it is incumbent upon the Mentor/Division to obtain extramural funding or utilize discretionary funds to cover the entirety of costs.

Clinical Year 1

  • Select research laboratory and mentor
  • Identify a research project and submit it to the research fellowship program director
  • Ongoing collaboration/participation in clinical research projects
  • Begin grant writing workshop in Spring, create NIH Biosketch, and begin a specific aims page

Clinical Year 2

  • Further formulate and develop a research project with the research mentor
  • Ongoing collaboration/participation in clinical research projects
  • Submit a Kirchstein National Research Service Award (NRSA) proposal or similarly robust funding mechanism (typically a federal award) before the December deadline
  • This requirement provides an essential academic experience—applying for a federal grant—and allows fellows to develop a research plan for internal NIH-funded fellowship (institutional T32) grants, the DCRI Research Fellowship Training Program, or foundation fellowships, such as the Thoracic Surgery Foundation for Research and Education (TSFRE), Ethicon-SUS (Society of University Surgeons), the American College of Surgeons Clinical Scholars in Residence Program, American Society of Transplant Surgeons, or the American Cancer Society, amongst others

Research Years 1 and 2 (PGY-3 and 4)

  • Active research fellowship, no required clinical responsibilities
  • Ongoing collaboration/participation in clinical research projects

Clinical Years 3-5 (PGY-5 to 7)

  • May continue research project in a limited capacity along with clinical responsibilities through continued engagement with their research mentor. There are a variety of mechanisms available to support this work (e.g., R38 awards), and attention should be paid to arranging for technical and supply expenses with the research mentor.
  • Ongoing collaboration/participation in clinical research projects


  • Every resident must write and submit at least one grant and should submit several unless funding is secured.
  • External funding opportunities
    • NIH F32
    • NIH T32 in surg onc (4 positions), immunology (3 positions), cardiology (3 positions)
    • NIH R38 (NHLBI and NIAID) (4+ positions)
    • Society grants (ACS, ASTS, TSF, etc.)

Research Fellowship Contact

For more information about the General Surgery Research Fellowship, contact: 

Jennie Phillips


Within the context of their individual research efforts and the scientific mentorship of research directors, fellows will:

  • Develop and implement a clinical or basic science research project
  • Develop skills to critically evaluate the scientific literature
  • Develop a basic understanding of statistics and epidemiology
  • Understand ethical behavior in performance of human and animal research
  • Submit protocols for approval to IRB/IACUC successfully and in a timely manner
  • Create a year-end research summary demonstrating oral and visual presentation skills
  • Acquire basic skills of writing and submitting manuscripts/abstracts
  • Actively participate in and attend conferences (80 percent conference attendance required)
  • Coordinate learning opportunities for fellow residents
  • Present at local, regional, national, or international scientific meetings

Conference Attendance

Included in the research fellowship is at least one major meeting in the area of investigation each year.

In addition, fellows who successfully submit abstracts and are invited to give platform presentations at meetings within the continental U.S. may apply for their meeting registration, travel, and housing to be funded by the residency program (within the approved guidelines).

Fellows who have successfully obtained external funding for attending conferences may use these funds with the approval of their research mentor and the research fellowship program director.


InnovateMD is an educational program within Duke MEDx designed to provide medical/surgical trainees and faculty with an educational and experience-based opportunity to collaborate with engineering students and faculty in the field of medical device innovation. The program was co-founded in early 2016 by David Ranney, MD, General Surgery Resident, and Ken Gall, PhD, Associate Director of Duke MEDx and Chair of the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science. Learn more about InnovateMD.

Duke General Surgery Residency Office Hours: Research

Learn about research during your residency at Duke General Surgery!

Learn more about the Duke Surgery Research Training Fellowship in a presentation by David Harpole, MD, Fellowship Director.