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Research is the foundation of modern medical practice -- and a cornerstone of Duke's renown as one of the nation's leading medical facilities. The following are highlights of research at Duke.

  • The Duke Clinical Research Institute (DCRI) is the largest academic 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.

    It is home to several large professional society databases, the American College of Surgeons Oncology Group, the Duke Databank for Cardiovascular Diseases (which has enrolled more than 200,000 patients to date), and a number of grants funded through the National Institutes of Health's Roadmap Initiative.

    Unique among academic medical centers, the DCRI has conducted studies at more than 37,000 sites in 65 countries, enrolling more than 1.2 million patients and producing more than 10,000 publications in peer-reviewed journals.

  • Well-known for research that crosses traditional boundaries, Duke is home to several prominent multidisciplinary think tanks that explore the emerging "new biology" and its ethical and social ramifications -- including the Trent Center for Bioethics, Humanities, and History of Medicine, the Center for Chemical Biology, and the Institute for Genome Sciences & Policy.

  • Duke is a leader in the field of human genetics. Researchers have helped identify genes associated with obesity and with susceptibility to such diseases as breast cancer, colon cancer, Lou Gehrig disease, and Alzheimer disease, opening new avenues toward curing and treating these devastating diseases.

  • Duke operates an interdisciplinary center for metabolic and nutritional research at the 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.

  • Duke is a major site of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, where researchers have gained new insights into Parkinson disease, schizophrenia, and diabetes.

  • 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 NIH 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.

    DHVI researchers are also involved in the $300-million Center for HIV/AIDS Vaccine Immunology (CHAVI) , a Duke-led consortium of universities and academic medical centers established by the NIH to solve major problems in HIV vaccine development and design. Duke is also home to a designated Center for AIDS Research and the Duke AIDS Research and Treatment Center.

  • Duke is internationally known for pioneering contributions to the understanding of cell receptors -- findings that dramatically change the way in which new drugs for diseases such as hypertension, congestive heart failure, and asthma are designed and tested.

  • The Duke Cancer Institute, 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, for its studies of the immune responses to tumors, and for its unique approach to treating brain tumors, melanoma, lung cancer, breast and 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.

  • A leader in integrative medicine, Duke has conducted influential studies on the effects of spirituality, herbal medicines, biofeedback, and other alternative therapies on health. 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.