MEDx Reflects: Exploring the medicine and engineering intersection with Dean Mary Klotman

Dean Mary Klotman

Mary Klotman, M.D., Dean of the Duke School of Medicine and Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs, is an accomplished clinician and scientist. Her research interests are focused on the molecular pathogenesis of Human Immunodeficiency Virus 1 (HIV-1) infection. As Dean, Klotman works with a leadership team comprising nine vice deans, a chief diversity and communications officer, as well as department chairs and center and institute directors.


Why are you interested in research at the intersection of medicine and engineering?

I have an interest in this intersection both as Dean and as a researcher. As Dean, we’ve always had the good fortune of having a top medical school and a top engineering school. That being said, because of everyone’s busy schedules, it’s becoming harder and harder to make those interactions just happen, so having a formal umbrella program helps bring together skilled faculty who, in our current busy world, may not have met each other otherwise. Having a formal program enhances those interactions and starts to build some really interesting programs, particularly tapping into the students. It’s a great way to purposefully bring together trainees and faculty with great ideas for joint problem solving.

As a researcher, there’s no question that the opportunity in science today is driven by technology, and engineering is at the center of that technology. As a scientist, I am trying to problem solve. I want to be at the front-end of technology, whether it’s really cool single-cell technology or it’s the ways we analyze complex data sets. I know I can’t do it all myself, so knowing throughout the institution, particularly in the School of Engineering, where I can find that expertise is really important.

How are you pursuing this intersection within Duke as Dean?

Besides MEDx, leadership across Duke, including the Dean of Engineering, the Provost and Vice Provost, we all buy into the same concept that if we leverage everything across Duke, we will be better. As Dean, I’m constantly looking for opportunities that are unique and that allow us to get faculty. An attractive