First-Year Achievements, Future Plans Highlighted at MEDx Launch Event

More than 100 faculty from Duke Health and Duke Engineering came together April 27 to celebrate the official launch of Duke MEDx—the new initiative founded in 2015 to strengthen collaborations between engineering and medicine at Duke to solve complex clinical problems.

Duke MEDx leaders Geoff Ginsburg and Ken Gall joined panelists Amanda Randles (Biomedical Engineering), Ryan Shaw (Nursing), Nenad Bursac (Biomedical Engineering), Kim Lyerly (Cancer Research/Surgery) and Gow Arepally (Medicine) (left-right) in sharing examples of collaborative research facilitated through the program’s colloquia series and pilot research funding initiatives.

To date, MEDx has funded six interschool colloquia on topics ranging from clinical mobile technologies to neuroengineering to microbiome synthesis. MEDx has also co-sponsored Duke-wide funding opportunities in basic and clinical quantitative research, as well as a cross-university partnership with Accenture to use data analytics to improve health care.

At the launch event, Ginsburg announced the winners of the initiative’s first competition for pilot research funding. Six of thirty applicants were selected to receive $50,000 each to pursue collaborative research projects focused on medical diagnostics and devices, with the goal of obtaining external funding after completing the pilot.

In the education arena, Duke MEDx has sponsored a pilot postdoctoral seminar session and student-led medical entrepreneurship conference, as well as created “social engineering” opportunities such as the weekly MEDx Café drop-in hour and MEDx Lunch, which encourages medical and engineering students to invite peers or faculty from the other school for a lunchtime meeting. This summer, a new program called InnovateMD will bring medical and surgical residents together with engineers for educational and experiential learning in the field of medical device innovation.

Looking ahead, director Geoffrey Ginsburg sketched out initial strategic priorities and plans for Duke MEDx developed through a series of interviews with medicine and engineering faculty, along with input from the MEDx steering committee.

“We’ll continue to work on integrating Duke medicine and engineering at both the faculty and the student levels, through joint colloquia, shadowing opportunities for trainees and more,” he said. “We’ll also focus on extending the highly successful model of the Duke-Coulter Translational Partnership by seeding pre-Coulter discovery research and working with Duke Innovation & Entrepreneurship Initiative to support commercialization of new therapeutics and diagnostics.” MEDx will also provide a platform to extend the collaborative model beyond biomedical engineering to other engineering and science disciplines, he added.  

Other priorities going forward include coordinating joint faculty hires between the Pratt School of Engineering and School of Medicine, engaging the basic-science community, supporting “collision space” to bring faculty and students together, and supporting large interdisciplinary thematic center grants from NSF and/or NIH that will propel science at the interface of medicine and engineering at Duke University to meet the grand challenges toward improving health and health care.

View full presentations from MEDx director Geoff Ginsburg and associate director Ken Gall below.

Jeff Ginsburg MEDx Launch

Ken Gall MEDx Launch