Ten DCI Faculty Awarded Distinguished Professorships


Duke University has awarded Distinguished Professorships to 44 faculty members from seven Duke colleges and schools this year — including 27 from the School of Medicine. Ten of these faculty are members of Duke Cancer Institute. The honorees were formally recognized by President Vincent Price and Interim Provost Jennifer Francis during a ceremony at the Washington Duke Inn on May 4.

Distinguished Professorships recognize faculty scholars who are well-established members of the Duke academic community and who have achieved distinction as creative scholars in their field or in their ability to transcend disciplines. For School of Medicine awardees, this means faculty who "have demonstrated extraordinary scholarship in advancing science and improving human health."

At the ceremony, Price noted the broad influence the awardees have had through their scholarship, by “shaping our understanding of the world, and advancing opportunities, solutions, and inventions to improve the human condition.”

Headshot of Peter Allen

Peter Allen, MD, PhD, David C. Sabiston, Jr. Distinguished Professor of Surgery

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.  

Headshot of Michel Bagnat

Michel Bagnat, PhD, Nanaline Duke Distinguished Professor in the School of Medicine

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.

Headshot of Daniel George

Daniel George, MD, Eleanor Easley Distinguished Professor in the School of Medicine

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.

Headshot of Gerald Grant

Gerald Grant, MD, Allan H. Friedman Distinguished Professor of Neurosurgery

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.

Headshot of Matthias Gromeier

Matthias Gromeier, MD, Cless Family Distinguished Professor in Neuro-Oncology

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. 

Headshot of Susan Halabi

Susan Halabi, PhD, James B. Duke Distinguished Professor in the School of Medicine

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.

Headshot of Seok Yong Lee

Seok-Yong Lee, PhD, George Barth Geller Distinguished Professor of Molecular Biology

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.  

Headshot of Steven Patierno

Steven Patierno, PhD, Charles D. Watts Distinguished Professor of Medicine

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. 

Headshot of John Rawls

John Rawls, PhD, James B. Duke Distinguished Professor of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology

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.  

Beth Sullivan, PhD, James B. Duke Distinguished Professor of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology

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.  

bios and graphic by Duke University School of Medicine

This page was reviewed on 05/05/2023