Doris Duke International Clinical Research Fellowship

The Doris Duke International Clinical Research Fellowship (ICRF) is designed to encourage medical students to pursue clinical research careers by exposing them to exciting research opportunities in developing countries.  Students who are matriculated at any U.S.-based medical school are eligible for the ICRF.

Program Overview

Students who participate in the ICRF program will take a year off from medical school to conduct international clinical research under the direction of a mentor working in global health.

Each fellow will work with a mentor to formulate a specific research project, write up the protocol, and follow the protocol through the relevant approval processes. The student will then take primary responsibility for initiating and conducting the study.

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill places Doris Duke fellows in China, Malawi, Vietnam and Zambia.

Application instructions are below. Questions about the ICRF at UNC should be directed to program coordinator Kathryn Salisbury at

Site Descriptions and Programs


Site Director: Mina Hosseinipour, MD, MPH

UNC has had a presence in Malawi since 1990. UNC Project-Malawi, a collaboration between UNC and the Malawi Ministry of Health, was established in 1999 on the campus of Kamuzu Central Hospital in Lilongwe. UNC Project has grown to include more than 300 employees with research, clinical and laboratory space, and living quarters for students and visiting faculty. UNC Project’s current research portfolio includes HIV and STD research, other infectious diseases such as malaria and tuberculosis, cancer, obstetric fistula, family planning, surgery, burns, and trauma.

ICRF students in Malawi may work in the following areas:

Sexually Transmitted Infections: The STI clinic at UNC Project is the setting for many treatment and prevention trials, most focused on the interaction between HIV and STI’s and also acute HIV. Since 2005, the STI clinic has had a robust, real-time database that tracks individual clinical, demographic and behavioral factors. Mentors:  Irving Hoffman, PA, MPH; Bill Miller, MD, PhD, MPH, Nora Rosenberg, PhD.

Cancer: Epidemiologic and clinical studies of Kaposi sarcoma and lymphoma are either ongoing or will be initiated soon through the Malawi Cancer consortium. Other ongoing cancer activities include maintenance of a hospital-wide cancer registry, continued development of a region-leading pathology laboratory, and screening and clinical studies for breast cancer. Students have previously conducted research on esophageal, head&neck, and breast cancer. Mentors:  Satish Gopal, MD, MPH; Agnes Moses, MD; Clara Lee MD, MPH. 

Sickle Cell disorders: Our work is describing the epidemiology and natural history of sickle cell disease and sickle cell trait in Malawi. Cross-sectional and cohort studies on the degree and mechanisms of activation of coagulation and inflammation in sickle cell disease are being conducted. Mentors: Satish Gopal, MD, MPH.

Trauma/Burns: Several research projects addressing traumatic injury, burns, and common general surgery emergencies are ongoing. UNC surgery faculty and residents also work with KCH clinicians to provide perioperative and surgical care.  Mentors: Anthony Charles, MD 

Maternal Health and Obstetric Fistula: UNC physicians in OB-GYN and infectious diseases are working with the CDC and other partners to plan prospective evaluations in emergency obstetrics education.  The Freedom from Fistula Foundation operates a full-time fistula unit UNC has instituted a comprehensive obstetric fistula database and are currently probing a number of unanswered questions in this field including staging, prediction of surgical success, rates of co-morbid conditions and other topics. Mentor: Jennifer Tang, MD

Contraception and Family Planning:  Investigators have completed studies on immediate postpartum contraception and interactions between HIV, antiretrovirals and hormonal contraception.   Planned activities include theevaluation of various family planning interventions on family planning uptake, with a focus on the postpartum period and long-acting reversible contraception.Mentor:  Jennifer Tang, MD

Universal ART for pregnant and breastfeeding women: Together with the Malawi Ministry of Health, UNC Project has rolled out universal test-and-treat ART for all pregnant and breastfeeding women—known as Option B+. We are conducting a cluster randomized clinical trial evaluating support strategies for improving uptake and retention in the program and are conducting an in depth safety and effectiveness cohort study for women on first and second line therapy in the program.  Also, there is a monitoring and evaluation and operational research team working to optimize delivery of PMTCT and ART services and identify best practices for the integration of additional services such as point of care testing, couple recruitment and retention strategies, community-based active case finding of program defaulters, and scale-up of infant HIV-1 DNA PCR testing. Mentors: Mina Hosseinipour, MD, MPH; Innocent Mofolo, MSc, Nora Rosenberg, PhD

New technologies for HIV and TB Diagnosis: Many companies are working on point of care assays to better diagnose and monitor HIV infection and tuberculosis. UNC Project has been working with more sensitive diagnostic testing capacity, but it is unclear how these tests should be integrated into the TB and HIV programs. Research activities will include development of optimal screening algorithms. Mentors: Irving Hoffman, PA, MPH; Mina Hosseinipour, MD, MPH; Peter Gilligan, PhD; Debbie Kamwendo, MS; Bill Miller, MD, MPH; Nora Rosenberg, PhD

Treatment of HIV: The Malawi ART program, initiated in 2004, has now evolved to provide more comprehensive integrated services including family planning, cervical cancer screening, tuberculosis screening and treatment, pre-ART, and other prevention programs, including anti-malaria bednet distribution. Fellows may develop projects focused on program evaluation of existing services or models of integration within the program. Mentors: Mina Hosseinipour, MD, MPH; Sam Phiri, PhD

 Social and Behavioral: This is a cross-cutting area that intersects with many of the above clinical areas. UNC Project is involved in researching depression among HIV-infected patients, male involvement as a facilitator of multiple sexual and reproductive health behaviors, alcohol use among commercial sex workers, and psychosocial outcomes of obstetric fistula and breast cancer. Mentors: Nora Rosenberg, PhD, William Miller, MD, PhD

For more information about UNC Project-Malawi, click here.


Site Director: Joseph D. Tucker, MD, MA

UNC has a long history of collaborative health research, service, and training in China.  The mission of UNC Project-China is to work collaboratively to improve the health of China and promote UNC-Chapel Hill’s presence in China. UNC faculty, students, and trainees are leading research on non-communicable diseases, HIV and STIs, maternal and child health, and other global health areas.

China has tremendous inequalities and unique capacity for public health implementation, providing a dynamic and rich environment in which to pursue mentored research through the Doris Duke program.  China’s rapid resurgence of sexually transmitted diseases creates opportunities for clinical, epidemiological, behavioral, and basic science research focused on sexual health.  Large funded projects supported by the NIH, WHO, and Gates Foundation create opportunities for students to carve out parallel mentored research.

Students interested in working with UNC Project-China must demonstrate proficiency in Mandarin (preferable) or Cantonese during an in-person interview.

ICRF China students will work in Guangzhou, Nanjing or Beijing, depending on the project.

Social entrepreneurship for sexual health (SESH):  New models of care are needed to expand HIV/syphilis screening among men who have sex with men and other most-at-risk populations.  In cooperation with local and regional community-based organizations, this project focuses on evaluation of health, social, and business metrics associated with innovative HIV and syphilis testing programs.  For example, examining how social marketing and crowdsourcing influence the success or failure of HIV testing programs.  Opportunities for qualitative and quantitative research are available.  Mentors: Joseph D. Tucker, MD, MA; Kathryn Muessig, PhD; Rosanna Peeling, PhD.

Social Science and Ethics of Curing HIV: Curing HIV is now a priority of the International AIDS Society and the US National Institutes of Health.  Clinical trials have already started in many sites, including Chapel Hill.  This research project examines the social, anthropological, ethical, and policy implications of cure HIV research.  The coming year will focus on stakeholder policy analysis to better understand the unintended implications of cure HIV research.
Mentors: Stuart Rennie, PhD; Joseph D. Tucker, MD, MA.

African Migrant Health Project in Guangzhou:  There are over 100,000 African migrants in Guangzhou, but access to health services is limited by a number of cultural, linguistic, and other barriers.  Local colleagues have established a clinical service for Africans in the Xiaobei Lu area.  Building on this foundation, this project examines biomarker and behavioral aspects of this subpopulation in order to provide high quality migrant health services.  The project also examines how larger foreign policy questions and trade issues influence health and wellness.
Mentors:  Joseph D. Tucker, MD, MA; Li Ling, PhD.

Sexually Transmitted Infections: China has a resurgent syphilis epidemic and some of the highest rates of purchasing sex among urban men of anywhere in the world.  The Guangdong Provincial STD Control Center plays a key role in organizing a response to STIs in Guangdong, a southern province with a high syphilis burden.  This provides unique opportunities for clinical, behavioral, epidemiological, and modeling STI research.  Mentors: Ligang Yang, MD, MS; Heping Zheng, PhD; Bin Yang, MD, MS; Arlene Sena, MD.

HIV-HCV Co-infections: The Number Eight Hospital in Guangzhou sees over 3700 HIV-infected patients and has detailed data on a cohort of HIV-HCV co-infected patients.   Clinical, behavioral, and basic science research opportunities are available.
Mentors: Stanley Lemon, MD; Joseph D. Tucker, MD, MA; Weiping Cai, MD.

Methadone Maintenance: A province-wide system of methadone maintenance clinics regularly engages over 15,000 individuals and provides opportunities for infectious disease testing, treatment, and retention among drug users.  This project led by the Sun Yat-sen Center for Migrant Health Policy explores the methadone system and its optimization.
Mentors: Li Ling, PhD, Joseph D. Tucker, MD, MA.

For more about UNC Project-China, click here.

Application Procedure

We are currently accepting applications for our 2014-2015 Fellowship.  Please apply through the Doris Duke International Clinical Research Fellows Portal, where there are full instructions and a link to the universal application. Application deadline dates will become available in the fall of 2015.

To complete your application for the UNC DDICRF, please email the following supplemental information to Kathryn Salisbury at

  1. Rank your preference of research sites affiliated with the UNC DDICRF (China, Malawi, Vietnam and Zambia).
  2. Do you have Chinese language skills (Mandarin, Cantonese)? And is China your preferred site?


For questions about the ICRF at UNC, please contact program coordinator Kathryn Salisbury