The Medicine Endeavor to Nurture Trainees to Research Success (MENTORS) program is a Department of Medicine initiative to help research fellows maximize the opportunities of their research time.

Who Is It For?

All fellows in the Department of Medicine interested in research, including basic, clinical, translational, and health services research, are eligible. While the program is designed for fellows on a research track, we welcome fellows in their clinical year as their time permits. Participation during the clinical year before research time begins can prepare fellows to "hit the ground running" when they begin their research time, for instance by helping them identify mentors and develop ideas for research projects.

View members of the Class of 2017

The MENTORS program provides fellows at Duke with a comfortable setting to develop professionally and interact with trainees from other disciplines engaged in research. It has been a great opportunity to receive valuable feedback from those less familiar with my research, and to learn from my peers’ ongoing research efforts in other specialties.

Robert Olivo, MD, Nephrology Fellow

What Does It Include?

The MENTORS program includes a Professional Development seminar series (group-based discussions led by a senior faculty member), Work-In-Progress presentations by the fellows with faculty and peer feedback, and meetings with the Directors of the MENTORS program to evaluate progress, goals and the mentor relationship. The Director, Deborah Fisher, MD, MHS, and the Co-Director, John Williams, MD, are established independent investigators with very strong mentorship records and leadership roles in fellowship programs.

The seminars and Work-In-Progress meetings are 1 hour per week from approximately October through June. The schedule from the last academic year is below. Most seminar topics are presented every other year. Each fellow presents a Work-In-Progress once during an academic year. Participation in WIP meetings, both as a presenter and as an audience member providing peer feedback is a critical component of MENTORS.

View the 2016-2017 Schedule

In addition, each fellow meets one-to-one with the Directors twice per year, in the fall and spring, to discuss progress towards short and long term goals, the primary mentor and mentorship team, and any questions or concerns about their research or career trajectory. The meeting and suggestions are summarized by the Directors and shared with the fellow, Division Fellowship Program Director, and the Division Chief. Fellows, Fellowship Directors and Chiefs have consistently reported the value of the meetings and summaries.

The MENTORS program is an excellent tool that a fellow can use to beneficially augment their translational research experience while at Duke and beyond.  The faculty have significantly helped me to be set up for academic success.    

Jeremy Force, D.O., Hematology/Oncology Fellow

What MENTORS Does Not Include

To avoid duplication with other programs, MENTORS does not provide instruction in research methodology, research ethics, clinical expertise in any specific content area, study design, statistics, grant writing, or manuscript preparation. We also do not provide internal review of grants. Each of these areas is covered either by the divisions' fellowship curricula or through other resources. The MENTORS Directors maintain a list of these resources, compiled by Heather Whitson, MD, both in the Department of Medicine and the School of Medicine, available here, and will continually inform fellows about such opportunities.

Additionally, MENTORS is providing information to fellows interested in the VA Health Administration Health Services Research and Development Career Development Award Program. Click here to read the evaluation report and view a five-part series that provides guidance on applying for VA HSRD CDA.

I already had a fantastic research mentor and initially was not sure how much additional benefit the MENTORS program would provide. However, participating in the MENTORS program (especially the individual meetings) taught me how to take a step back, refresh my short-term and long-term career goals, learn how to maintain current professional relationships and how to network, and gain a better perspective on balancing clinical and research responsibilities. Overall, the program was a "bonus" to my research training.

Vaishali Patel, MD, Gastroenterology Fellow

How Do I Join?

An introductory email is sent to all Department of Medicine fellows at the beginning of the academic year. Please respond to this letter with your intention to participate. Fellows who indicate their interest in participating will be sent an email survey regarding availability. Every attempt is made to choose a time that is available to the most participants.

If you do not receive the email or have any questions, please email or

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Bookmark this page to keep up with activities and learn more about MENTORS.

Click here to review MENTORS resources and documents.


Deborah Fisher, MD, MHS
Director, MENTORS
Associate Professor of Medicine

John Williams, MD
Co-Director, MENTORS
Professor of Medicine and Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences

MENTORS Class of 2017

Name Division
Christine Bates Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care Medicine
Dan Blalock VA HSR&D
Bridgette Christopher Cardiovascular Disease
Emily Clausen Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care Medicine
Ahmad Farooq Gastroenterology
Jaime Hughes VA HSR&D
Shekeab Jauhari Hematology-Oncology
Allison Lewinski VA HSR&D
Joseph Lunyera General Internal Medicine
Melissa Makar Nephrology
Ko Ko Maung Hematology-Oncology
Neelima Navuluri Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care Medicine
Gedion Ngeno Cardiovascular Disease
Megan Shepherd-Banigan VA HSR&D
Brian Sullivan Gastroenterology

MENTORS Class of 2016

Name Division
Anubha Agarwal IM Residency Program
Bridgette Christopher Cardiovascular Disease
Jeremy Force Hematology-Oncology
Marion Hemersbach-Miller Infectious Diseases
Rebecca Herbst Endocrinology
Benjamin Heyman Hematology-Oncology
Jaime Hughes Other
Melissa Makar Nephrology
Laura Musselwhite Hematology-Oncology
Rob Olivo Nephrology
Daniel Parker Geriatrics
Yuval Patel Gastroenterology
Megan Shepherd-Banigan Other
Andrew Strand Infectious Diseases

Shannon Taylor

Onala Telford Endocrinology
Carol Traynor Nephrology

2016-2017 Session Topics

Topic Guest Speaker
MENTORS introduction Corrine Voils, Deborah Fisher
Transition to Faculty and Job Negotiation Cathy Wood
Mentoring and Collaborating from a Distance Corrine Voils
Professional Networking Yousuf Zafar
How to Give a Good Presentation (Debrief after videos) Corrine Voils, Deborah Fisher
Orientation to Duke Library Megan von Isenberg
WIP: Jeremy Force  
Data Visualization Angela Zoss
Orientation to Duke IRB Cynthia Moylan
Reviewing Manuscripts Heather Whitson
Media Training Kevin Campbell
Preparing for Job Interview/Talk Andrew Muir
How to Write a Letter of Support for Yourself and Others Scott Palmer
Time Management Peter Ubel
Writing Efficiently Peter Ubel
Social Media to Enhance Your Career Matthew Sparks
WIP: Yuval Patel  
WIP: Megan Shepherd-Banigan  
How to Lead a Meeting Nicki Hastings
SCAP Science Culture and Accountability Plan Richard Premont
WIP: Daniel Parker  
How to Build an Effective Mentor/Mentee Relationship Vance Fowler
WIP: Marion Hemmersbach-Miller  
WIP: Anubha Agarwal  
WIP: Robert Olivio  
WIP: Laura Musselwhite  
WIP: Jaime Hughes  
WIP: Carol Traynor  
WIP: Shannon Taylor  
WIP: Melissa Makar  
WIP: Bridgette Christopher  

I already had a mentor and research project planned before coming to Duke, but it was very helpful to have objective and supportive mentors outside my division. The lecturers were thought leaders at Duke and are great for new (or returning) fellows. The best part was having the opportunity to give a WIP presentation outside of my lab, division and group — it allowed me to refine my presentation for the next round.

Reilly Coch, MD, Endocrinology Fellow