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Research Training

In the Division of Neonatology, we believe that effective training is supported in a milieu in which scientists with a broad variety of interests and backgrounds come together to share ideas and provide one-on-one mentoring of junior physician-scientists. Such a milieu exists in the neonatal training program at Duke and the Neonatal-Perinatal Research Institute (NPRI), a multidisciplinary group of basic and clinical researchers dedicated to the study of developmental biology and health care problems of the neonate. The training of physician-scientists to carry out outstanding research is an integral part of the mission of the Division of Neonatology, the NPRI, the Department of Pediatrics and the Duke School of Medicine.

Neonatology research opportunities at Duke encompass both the basic and clinical sciences. In addition, many fellows choose to engage in masters level training encompassing a myriad of clinically relevant fields. Examples include, but are not limited to Masters degrees in Clinical Research, Public Health, Genomics, Medical Informatics, and Health Care Policy. Fellows may choose one of the Three Research Tracks to guide their education during their time at Duke:

The aim of mentored research is to provide fellows with the background and qualifications for successful independent research. During the first year, discussions with faculty and other advisors lead to an individualized research training plan, which depends upon the fellow’s academic and professional goals. The research mentorship within the Division follows the investigative interests of the faculty: 1) prenatal and perinatal mechanisms of cardiopulmonary and central nervous system injury and repair, 2) postnatal neurodevelopmental outcome, and 3) resource allocation and cost analysis in intensive care. Research is conducted within the aegis of the Neonatal Perinatal Research Institute (NPRI). The NPRI is comprised of investigators within the Divisions of Neonatal Medicine, Maternal Fetal Medicine, and Obstetric Anesthesiology, with affiliated faculty and advisors in Internal Medicine (Pulmonary Medicine, Neurology, Immunology), Neurobiology, Cell Biology, Genetics, and The Sanford Institute of Public Policy. At the start of the fellowship each fellow is aligned with a faculty member within the NPRI or its affiliates. Depending on the fellow’s interests and future plans, research mentors can be chosen from any of the faculty at the Duke Medical School.


Physician Scientist Track I

The Physician Scientist, or Basic Science Research Training track, is designed to give young investigators the knowledge and skills needed to perform cutting-edge scientific research and succeed in the highly competitive environment of academic pediatrics. Moreover, one of the most significant goals of the program is to ensure that young physicians will be able to translate, for the benefit of patients, research findings into clinical practice.

During the first year of the Basic Science Research Track, fellows work with faculty members and other advisors to develop an individualized research training plan. This plan is custom tailored to meet the fellow’s academic and professional goals. Research mentorship within the Division follows the investigative interests of the faculty: 1) Neuro & Cardiopulmonary Developmental Biology, and 2)Prenatal and postnatal mechanisms of pulmonary and central nervous system injury and repair. Research is conducted within the aegis of the Jean & George Brumley, Jr., Neonatal Perinatal Research Institute (NPRI). The NPRI is comprised of investigators within the Divisions of Neonatology, Maternal Fetal Medicine, and with affiliated faculty and advisors in Internal Medicine, Neurobiology, The Multidisciplinary Neuroprotection Laboratories, Cell Biology, Duke Institute for Genomic Sciences & Policy, Center for Population Genomics & Pharmacogenetics, Center for Human Genomics, the Pratt School of Engineer & The Stedman Center for Nutrition. At the start of the fellowship each fellow is aligned with a faculty member within the NPRI or its affiliates. Depending on the fellow’s interests and future plans, research mentors can be chosen from any of the faculty at the Duke Medical School. A formal mentorship committee is established for each fellow.

Clinical Scientist Track II

The Clinical Scientist research training program is designed to provide young clinical scientists with the tools and skills needed to perform innovative clinical research, translating and testing basic science discoveries in the clinical arena.

The program's clinical research training is based on a unique master's program, the Masters of Health Sciences in Clinical Research, that Duke has developed to train clinical researchers. Clinical research trainees are required to participate in core courses required for this degree.

The trainees, working with mentors experienced in clinical research and committed to this program, may select from a broad range of research initiatives based within the Neonatal-Perinatal Research Institute (NPRI), the Duke Clinical Research Institute, the NICHD-sponsored Neonatal Network, The Duke Center for Genomic and Computational Biology and the Duke Center for Human Genetics.
 
The Duke Clinical Research Institute (DCRI) is the largest academic clinical research organization in the United States and home to the Pediatric Clinical Research Initiative. The goals of the DCRI are to advance medical care and iprove patient survuval and quality of life by developing and directing multi-centered clinical trials in pediatric therapeutics, train pediatricians in clinical research, and, through mentoring, help them develop successful research careers.
 
The NICHD Neonatal Research Network (NRN) was established in 1986 to improve the care and outcome of neonates, especially very-low-birth-weight infants. Operating under competitive cooperative agreements, the NRN includes investigators from 16 university-based clinical centers, a Network Data Coordinating Center, and NICHD staff. The Network was developed to address major problem areas in neonatology through multicenter randomized controlled trials.
 
Clinical research is also available in the Neurodevelopmental Followup and Outcomes Research Fellowship Track under the direction of Ricki Goldstein, MD.

Clinical Scholar/Educator Track III

Instead of pursuing more traditional research in the basic or clinical sciences, neonatal fellows may choose to study Biomedical Ethics, Medical Informatics, or Health Care Policy & Medical Economics. Master's degrees are available through Duke University in any of the above disciplines.

While the fields of health policy and finance have not traditionally been a part of neonatal fellowship training, the realities of today’s managed care climate coupled with the soaring costs associated with neonatal intensive care have forced many academic institutions to critically rethink their fiscal positions. To meet these ongoing challenges, the Division offers a program which includes didactic sessions and hands-on training in health economics, population statistics, health administration and public policy. These courses offer real-world projects involving unit finances, facility planning, staffing analysis and network development. Graduates of this academic path will have the necessary financial and public policy tools to understand and study the current rapidly changing health care system. The program is in conjunction with the Terry Sanford Institute of Public Policy, the Duke Health Care System and the Division of Neonatalogy.