Meet the School of Medicine’s 2023 Distinguished Professors 

This spring, 27 faculty members in the Duke University School of Medicine have been awarded distinguished professorships. The new distinguished professors were honored at the annual distinguished professorship event on May 4.  

In total, Duke University awarded distinguished professorships to 44 faculty members from seven Duke colleges and schools this year.  

Distinguished professorships are awarded to faculty who have demonstrated extraordinary scholarship in advancing science and improving human health.   

The 2023 recipients from the School of Medicine are:  

David C. Sabiston, Jr. Distinguished Professor of Surgery  

Peter Allen, MD 

Peter Allen, MD, is a professor of surgery. An accomplished surgeon who specializes in treating disorders of the pancreas, liver, bile ducts, stomach, and adrenal glands, he serves as chief of the Division of Surgical Oncology. Allen is known for his multidisciplinary approach to research and patient care, particularly for those with complex issues involving cancer. In addition to his patient care and research accomplishments, he is a superb medical educator and mentor. His reputation as a leader in his field — serving as an author, editorial board member and visiting lecturer — has elevated the Duke surgical oncology program.  

Nanaline Duke Distinguished Professor in the School of Medicine 

Michael Bagnat, PhD  

Michael Bagnat, PhD, is a professor of cell biology. He is a highly productive scientist who creatively combines tools and approaches from the fields of cell biology, developmental biology, physiology, genetics, biophysics, and computational modeling. His research has provided insight into the molecular physiology of fundamental processes in the gut and other organ systems. His studies of intestinal development and physiology have laid the groundwork for identifying modifiers of intestinal inflammation, and potential drivers of human inflammatory bowel disease. He has an exceptional reputation as a mentor and teacher.  

Stewart, Hughes, and Wendt Distinguished Professor in the School of Medicine 

Richard Bedlack, MD, PhD 

Richard Bedlack, MD, PhD, is a professor of neurology. A leader in clinical care and research in the field of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), he founded and developed the ALS clinic at Duke, which has become one of the nation’s largest and most comprehensive multi-disciplinary ALS care centers. He has spent nearly two decades studying and collaborating on epidemiologic, genetic, and interventional ALS research trials. He built an international research program called ALSU Entangled that uses social networking and crowd sourcing to review alternative therapies for ALS. He has also been an important advocate for military personnel with an increased risk of ALS, and he created a VA Cooperative Studies Program to study feasibility of a brain computer interface for veterans with ALS.  

Virginia Flowers Baker Distinguished Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery  

Michael Bolognesi, MD  

Michael Bolognesi, MD, is a professor of orthopaedic surgery. As chief of the adult reconstruction service, he has used his academic and organizational leadership to make a significant impact on the field of orthopaedics and joint reconstruction in adults. His research is focused on improving clinical outcomes, implant survivorship, the biology of hip and knee arthritis, and cost-effectiveness. He leads the adult reconstruction fellowship program, and in 2019, he served as the 29th president of the American Association of Hip and Knee Surgeons.  

Laszlo Ormandy Distinguished Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery  

Louis DeFrate, ScD  

Louis DeFrate, ScD, is a professor of orthopaedic surgery and biomedical engineering. He studies anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) mechanics and has used advanced radiographic and MR imaging to investigate soft tissue structure, composition, and function, and to improve outcomes in ACL repair. DeFrate is vice chair for biomechanics, movement, and imaging research and the director of the K-lab. He employs innovative methods using motion capture, MRI, and biplanar radiography to study the knee. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons awarded DeFrate its Kappa Delta Young Investigator Award.  

Chancellor’s Distinguished Professor of Cell Biology 

Cagla Eroglu, PhD 

Cagla Eroglu, PhD, is a professor of cell biology and neurobiology. She studies the development of synaptic connectivity in the mammalian brain. Her focus has been on how glial cells called astrocytes affect synaptogenesis. As a postdoctoral fellow, she discovered the receptor for astrocyte-derived Thrombospondin on neurons, published in a landmark 2009 paper. The mechanisms her lab has uncovered for how specific molecules function have set new paradigms in the field. She is considered a leader in this rapidly growing area and has published numerous significant and high-impact papers. 

Eleanor Easley Distinguished Professor in the School of Medicine 

Daniel George, MD 

Daniel George, MD, is a professor of medicine and a professor in surgery. Since 2003 he has led the genitourinary section of the Duke Division of Medical Oncology, and he leads Duke’s participation in the Department of Defense Prostate Cancer Clinical Trials Consortium. His research leading and collaborating on clinical trials of tyrosine kinase inhibitors, anti-androgen therapy, chemotherapy, and immunotherapy has led to advances in the treatment of patients with kidney cancer and prostate cancer. He is vice dean of diversity and equity in the Division of Medical Oncology, and he conducts clinical trials aimed at understanding and addressing the disproportionately poor outcome of Black men with prostate cancer. 

Donald F. Fortin, MD Distinguished Professor of Medicine 

Christopher Granger, MD 

Christopher Granger, MD, is a professor of medicine and a professor in the School of Nursing. He has conducted practice-changing clinical research for over 30 years in cardiovascular medicine, leading a number of large international clinical studies of heart attacks, unstable angina, heart failure, and atrial fibrillation. He has also led clinical studies of blood thinners and coronary intervention for heart attacks, stroke prevention in atrial fibrillation, and prevention of heart attack for patients with coronary artery disease. He serves as the chairman of the American Heart Association Mission: Lifeline program to improve heart attack care nationally as well as the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association guideline committee for heart attack care. 

Allan H. Friedman Distinguished Professor of Neurosurgery 

Gerald Grant, MD 

Gerald Grant, MD, is a professor and chair of the Department of Neurosurgery and a professor in neurobiology. He is an internationally recognized pediatric neurosurgeon and surgeon-scientist who focuses on two critical areas: the biological function of the blood-brain barrier (BBB) and mechanisms involved in recovery from brain injury. He studies the unique features of the BBB surrounding brain tumors at the molecular and functional level. His research focuses on innovative ways to open the BBB to improve the delivery of novel drugs and immunotherapy to target brain tumors.  

Cless Family Distinguished Professor in Neuro-Oncology 

Matthias Gromeier, MD 

Matthias Gromeier, MD, is a professor of neurosurgery. He has dedicated his career to unraveling RNA virus/host relations and devising methods of exploiting them for cancer immunotherapy and vaccine design. He has applied his discoveries to design an attenuated poliovirus to activate the immune system to target glioblastoma and other cancers. In addition, his lab has conducted mechanistic studies showing how the attenuated poliovirus stimulates presentation of tumor antigens and antigen-presenting cells. 

W. David and Sarah W. Stedman Distinguished Professor in the School of Medicine 

Rana Gupta, PhD 

Rana Gupta, PhD, is a professor in medicine in the Division of Endocrinology, Metabolism, and Nutrition, and a professor in cell biology. He is internationally known for his expertise in metabolic regulation and adipose tissue biology. His discoveries of genetic factors and specialized subpopulations of adipose tissue precursor cells open the door to translational implications in metabolic diseases. He has received honors including the Searle Scholar Award, the Hartwell Foundation Individual Biomedical Research Award, and the Richard E. Weitzman Outstanding Early Career Investigator Award from the Endocrine Society. 

James B. Duke Distinguished Professor in the School of Medicine 

Susan Halabi, PhD 

Susan Halabi, PhD, is a professor of biostatistics and bioinformatics and co-chief of the Division of Biostatistics in the Department of Biostatistics & Bioinformatics. She has been at the forefront of designing and analyzing clinical trials in oncology for over 25 years. She is focused on developing innovative variable selection methods for biomarkers and high dimensional data. Among her key contributions are building and validating prognostic models of outcomes for prostate cancer and identifying surrogate endpoints for overall survival. A past-president of the Society for Clinical Trials and the 2022 recipient of the Janet L. Norward Award, Dr. Halabi is a Fellow of the Society for Clinical Trials, the American Statistical Association, and the American Society for Clinical Oncology. 

F. Bayard Carter Distinguished Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology 

John Jelovsek, MD 

John Jelovsek, MD, is a clinical researcher and professor of obstetrics and gynecology. He also serves as the director of data science for women’s health in the Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology. He is an expert in developing and validating individualized patient-centered prediction tools that improve patient and clinician decision-making with contracting and possibly preventing pelvic floor disorders after childbirth. One such tool, which predicts urinary incontinence after pelvic organ prolapse surgery, has been incorporated into the American Urogynecologic Society’s mobile app for clinical use and is now used by surgeons across the world.  

James B. Duke Distinguished Professor 

Eric Laber, PhD 

Eric Laber, PhD, is a professor of statistical science, biostatistics and bioinformatics, and a research professor of global health. He is an expert in data-driven decision making at the intersection of biostatistics, statistics, and machine learning, with applications in clinical trials, precision medicine, and experimental design. This field focuses on improving algorithms for solving sequential decision problems, with the ultimate goal of improving outcomes across diverse fields. He has also made significant contributions in the field of personalized medicine, contributing fundamental statistical methodology that has helped facilitate rapid advances in the field. He is the recipient of numerous prestigious awards and honors. 

George Barth Geller Distinguished Professor of Molecular Biology 

Seok-Yong Lee, PhD 

Seok-Yong Lee, PhD, is a professor in biochemistry and cell biology. As a membrane structural biologist, he has developed advanced tools in X-ray crystallography, electron microscopy, cryogenic electron microscopy (cryo-EM), and electrophysiology and has applied these tools to solve challenging questions about membrane and protein structural biology. He has become a world leader in this field and has made major advancements in three different classes of membrane protein: active transporters, ion channels, and enzymes. He has provided a better understanding of the cold and menthol sensor in mammals and a pain sensor for noxious chemicals. His work has also led to structural drug designs that can improve pharmacological properties.  

John Strohbehn University Distinguished Professor 

Jennifer Lodge, PhD 

Jennifer Lodge, PhD, is a professor of molecular genetics and microbiology and serves as Duke University’s vice president for research and innovation. She leads oversight of Duke’s annual research portfolio. Lodge’s research focuses on the human pathogenic fungus Cryptococcus neoformans, exploring the biochemical processes by which this fungus builds its cell walls. Her work has brought the field of molecular pathogenesis for cryptococcosis from its infancy to one of the true model fungal pathogens for worldwide study. Lodge is a fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the National Academy of Inventors.  

Chancellor’s Distinguished Professor of Immunology 

Edward Miao, MD, PhD 

Edward Miao, MD, PhD, is a professor of immunology, molecular genetics and microbiology, cell biology, and pathology. He also serves as vice chair for equity, diversity, and inclusion in the Department of Integrative Immunobiology. He studies mechanisms of cell death that play critical roles in the immune response to bacterial infection. He is expanding the medical knowledge base of the fundamental interactions between the immune system and a range of invaders. His lab has pioneered the use of environmental bacteria with pathogenic potential that have not adapted to evade mammalian immunity and comparing these to bona fide human pathogens that are able to hide from mammalian immune defenses.  

James B. Duke Distinguished Professor of Biostatistics and Bioinformatics 

David Page, PhD 

David Page, PhD, is professor and chair of the Department of Biostatistics and Bioinformatics and a professor of computer science. A highly respected computer scientist whose work is primarily focused on artificial intelligence and machine learning, Page is recognized for his pioneering efforts to use machine learning in biomedical applications, including the first application of dynamic Bayesian network learning to time-series gene expression as a means to better learn how genes cause other gene expressions to change. Over his career, Page has received numerous awards and is a member of several NIH review committees. He was inducted into the American College of Medical Informatics in 2021.  

Charles D. Watts Distinguished Professor of Medicine 

Steven Patierno, PhD 

Steven Patierno, PhD, is a professor of medicine and pharmacology and cancer biology. He is also a professor in family medicine and community health and deputy director of Duke Cancer Institute. Patierno is a renowned cancer researcher with training in molecular oncology and pharmacology and expertise in lung, breast, and prostate cancer. His work to develop innovative interventions for mitigating health disparities in the cancer patient population is well-recognized locally and nationally. His funding track record includes multiple R01 grants as principal investigator and co-principal investigator. Patierno’s numerous awards and honors include the AACR Distinguished Science of Cancer Disparities Research Award and the Duke University Health System Diversity and Inclusion Award. 

James B. Duke Distinguished Professor of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology 

John Rawls, PhD 

John Rawls, PhD, is a professor of molecular genetics and microbiology and cell biology. He also is a professor in medicine. Rawls studies the influence of the gut microbiome on vertebrate host physiology and is a world leader in using the tractable zebrafish model for such studies. He has used both zebrafish and mouse systems to yield insights about host-microbe interactions relevant to development, homeostasis, metabolism, and disease. The work impacts many areas, including gut motility, fat absorption, effects of diet, visceral adipose tissue, obesity, gut immune responses, diabetes, and neural development.  

Edwin Crowell Hamblen Distinguished Professor of Reproductive Biology and Family Planning 

Danny Schust, MD 

Danny Schust, MD, is a professor and vice chair for research in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. He is a national and international leader and physician scientist in obstetrics and gynecology and is renowned in his field of reproductive endocrinology and infertility. He is widely recognized for his work in areas of early pregnancy, recurrent pregnancy loss, early placental development, reproductive infectious diseases, and the immunology of the human maternal-fetal interface. His research interests center on understanding human placental development, both normal and dysfunctional. His lab uses 2D and 3D stem cell-derived models to study human implantation and placentation.  

Ursula Geller Distinguished Professor of Research in Cardiovascular Diseases 

Svati Shah, MD, MHS 

Svati Shah, MD, MHS, is a professor of medicine and of biostatistics and bioinformatics. She is the associate dean of genomics and director of the Duke Precision Collaboratory, as well as vice chief of translational research and director of the Adult Cardiovascular Genetics Clinic in the Division of Cardiology. She brings expertise in biostatistics, bioinformatics, genetics, translational biology, and molecular discovery tools to her research into genetic and metabolic pathways in cardiovascular diseases. She has advanced both the understanding of underlying genetic risk for atherosclerotic disease and the biologic metabolic underpinnings of obesity and heart failure. Currently, her lab studies metabolic and genetic pathways of cardiometabolic diseases, integrating diverse genomic, metabolomic and proteomic techniques for identification of novel mechanisms of disease and biomarkers.  

James B. Duke Distinguished Professor of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology 

Beth Sullivan, PhD 

Beth Sullivan, PhD, is a professor of molecular genetics and microbiology, professor of cell biology, and associate dean of research training. She studies epigenetic and genetic mechanisms of centromeres, specialized chromosomal sites involved in chromosome architecture and movement, kinetochore function, heterochromatin assembly, and sister chromatid cohesion. Dysregulation of chromosomal segregation underlies many human genetic disorders. Among Sullivan’s major accomplishments have been to define the functions and roles of telomeres. She has made important discoveries regarding the functions of centromeres, mechanisms of chromosomal segregation, and has contributed to the final full sequence of the human genome.  

Laszlo Ormandy Distinguished Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery 

Shyni Varghese, PhD 

Shyni Varghese, PhD, is a professor of orthopaedic surgery and a professor in the Departments of Biomedical Engineering and Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science. She is a biomedical engineer whose research addresses musculoskeletal tissue repair, disease biophysics, and organ-on-a-chip technologies. Her lab seeks to understand the effect of physicochemical cues of the microenvironment on cellular behaviors leading to stem cell commitment, tissue repair and homeostasis, or disease progression. Her research has provided deep insights into how extracellular matrix interactions govern tissue regeneration in musculoskeletal systems and disease progression in the context of fibrosis.  

Leonard J. & Margaret Goldwater Distinguished Professor of Family Medicine and Community Health 

Anthony Viera, MD 

Anthony Viera, MD, is professor and chair of the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health and a professor in population health sciences. His focus is in the areas of cardiovascular disease prevention research, in particular improving detection and control of hypertension, ambulatory blood pressure monitoring, and obesity prevention. His most influential work on masked hypertension and blood pressure monitoring addresses a huge public health problem and has the potential to prevent cardiovascular disease in those that are not currently diagnosed by traditional methods. Much of his scholarly work has focused on using rigorous scientific methods to address fundamental questions in primary care practice as well as educating and mentoring students and trainees to bring data science and clinical investigation to primary care.  

James B. Duke Distinguished Professor of Population Health Sciences 

Kevin Weinfurt, PhD 

Kevin Weinfurt, PhD, is professor and vice chair of research in the Department of Population Health Sciences and a faculty member of the Duke Clinical Research Institute. He is also a professor of psychology and neuroscience, psychiatry and behavioral health, and biostatistics and informatics. He is co-director of the Center for Health Measurement and of the Clinical Research Training Program. He conducts research on measuring patient-reported outcomes, medical decision-making, and bioethics.  

Wolfgang Joklik Distinguished Professor of Global Health  

Christopher Woods, MD 

Christopher Woods, MD, is a professor of medicine, pathology, and global health. He is the executive director of the Hubert/Yeargan Center for Global Health and associate director of the Duke Center for Applied Genomics and Precision Medicine. His research crosses multiple disciplines, including innovative diagnostic platforms, clinical trials, and clinical testing in infectious disease diagnosis. He has used genomic approaches of the host response for diagnosis of infectious disease, which has established him as a leader in diagnostic innovation. His research impact spans the globe and has facilitated projects in 33 countries and student‐led projects in 17 countries.  

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