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Duke University School of Medicine


Established 1930
University Duke Universitymarker
School Type Private
Dean Nancy Andrews
Faculty 2,000+
Students 450
Location Durhammarker, North Carolinamarker, USAmarker
Campus Urban

The Duke University School of Medicine is part of the Duke University Medical Center in Durhammarker, North Carolinamarker. Established in 1930 by James B. Duke, the School of Medicine has since earned a reputation as one of the world's foremost patient care and research institutions. The school has one of the best student-faculty ratios, with only 100 MD students per class and more than 2,000 basic science and clinical faculty.

The School of Medicine's current Dean, Nancy C. Andrews, is the first woman hired to head a United States Top Ten medical school. Clinical rotations occur within the Duke University Health Systemmarker, a fully integrated academic health care system encompassing a tertiary-care hospital and specialty clinics on the Medical Center campus, two community hospitals, home health and hospice services, a network of primary care physicians, and other partners across North Carolina and southern Virginia. In particular, Duke University Medical Center is consistently ranked among the top 10 of some 5,700 American hospitals by US News and World Report, with 13 out of 16 specialties ranked among the nation's top 20 in 2007. Furthermore, the School of Medicine is a national force in biomedical research, bringing in $407 million in NIH-sponsored projects in 2006.


In 1925, James B. Duke made a bequest to establish the Duke School of Medicine, Duke School of Nursing, and Duke Hospital, with the goal of improving health care in the Carolinas and nationwide. 3,000 applicants applied to the new medical school in 1929 and 70 first- and third-year students were selected, including four women, for the School's inaugural class. In 1935, just five years after it opened, Duke was ranked among the top 25 percent of medical schools in the country by the AAMC.

In 1966, The Duke Medical Scientist Training Program, a joint degree program leading to both the MD and the PhD degrees, was founded. It is one of the first three in the nation. The new $94.5 million, 616-bed Duke Hospital opened in 1980, bringing the total number of patient beds to more than 1000. (Today the renovated original hospital serves as Duke Clinic, an outpatient facility that sees more than 1 million patients annually. Duke Hospital is currently licensed for 1,124 beds.) From then until 1994, the Medical Center embarked on the busiest period of new construction in decades, including the Levine Science Research Center, Medical Sciences Research Building, a complete renovation of Duke Clinic, additions to the Morris Building for cancer care and research, a new Children's Health Center, a new ambulatory care building, and new parking garages. Among its many breakthroughs and discoveries in medicine, the FDA approved lifesaving treatment for Pompe disease, a previously fatal genetic disorder, developed at Duke in 2006. That same year, Duke launched the university-wide Global Health Institute to promote education, research, and service in health care to underserved populations locally, regionally, and around the world.


The School of Medicine has a unique curriculum among American medical schools. All of the basic sciences are learned in one year instead of the customary two, and clinical rotations start in the second year rather than the third. This allows a year of research or other scholarship during the third year.

Duke Medical School First Year Curriculum
Section Title Duration Description
Molecules and Cells 6.5 weeks Biochemistry, Genetics, Cell Biology
Normal Body 12.5 weeks Gross Anatomy, Microanatomy, Physiology
Brain and Behavior 4 weeks Neurobiology, Human Behavior
Body and Disease 20 weeks Microbiology, Immunology, Pathology, Pharmacology

Rankings and Admissions

According to US News and World Report annual ranking of American medical schools, the Duke University School of Medicine typically ranks in the top six medical schools in the United States. In 2009, the School of Medicine was ranked 6th for research and 41st in primary care. Admissions to Duke is highly competitive, with roughly 3.7% of applicants accepted for the 2008 class (5,309 applied, 739 interviewed, 196 accepted). Matriculates had an average GPA of 3.74 and average MCAT of 34.5.

Collaboration with the National University of Singapore

Duke recently announced plans to open a medical school in collaboration with the National University of Singaporemarker. The school, called the Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School, enrolled its first class for the Fall of 2007.

Research and Institutions

  • The Duke Clinical Research Institute is the largest academic clinical research organization in the world. Dedicated to improving patient care through innovative clinical research, it performs clinical research across the spectrum, ranging from: Phase I through Phase IV clinical trials; outcomes research; registries of more than 100,000 patients; and economic and quality of life studies in populations spanning more than 20 therapeutic areas.
  • The Duke Global Health Institute (DGHI) works to reduce health disparities in our local community and worldwide. Recognizing that many global health problems stem from economic, social, environmental, political and health care inequalities, DGHI brings together interdisciplinary teams to solve complex health problems and to train the next generation of global health scholars. The institute works with faculty and students from every school at Duke. It coordinates educational programs for undergraduate, graduate and professional students and facilitates multi-disciplinary education, research and service efforts on campus and in a variety of international sites.
  • The Trent Center for Bioethics, Humanities, and History of Medicine, the Center for Chemical Biology, and the $200-million Institute for Genome Sciences & Policy.
  • Sarah W. Stedman Nutrition and Metabolism Center. Research efforts include translating basic science and epidemiological findings into well-designed clinical trials, ultimately leading to the development of new therapies for diseases with a metabolic basis such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.
  • The Duke Human Vaccine Institute (DHVI) is a national and international leader in the fight against the major infectious diseases. Institute leaders head the $45-million Southeast Regional Center of Excellence for Emerging Infections and Biodefense (SERCEB), established by the NIHmarker and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in 2003 to perform the basic and translational research to make drugs, vaccines, and diagnostics to protect society from emerging infections and biothreats.
  • The Duke Comprehensive Cancer Center, among the top United States comprehensive cancer centers in peer-reviewed research support, is known for designing innovative therapies using bone marrow transplantation and hyperthermia therapy, for its studies of the immune responses to tumors, and for its unique approach to treating brain tumors, melanoma, lung cancer, breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and prostate cancer.
  • The Duke Heart Center has conducted many of the leading studies on the genetic factors underlying heart disease and early trials of new treatments for heart disease, as well as a long-term federal project to define appropriate treatment for heart attack patients.
  • The Duke Center for the Study of Aging and Human Development is conducting one of the nation's largest studies of the elderly, surveying over 4,000 people annually to identify risk factors that lead to chronic disease and loss of independence.
  • Duke Integrative Medicine is also the first in the country to attempt to examine and quantify the value of mind-body-spirit interventions for the treatment of chronic heart failure.

Notable Faculty and Alumni


  1. "Duke Taps First Woman To Lead Medical School", Wall Street Journal, Aug. 28, 2007.

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