Duke University School of Nursing Receives $1.4M T32 Grant from National Institutes of Health

Duke University School of Nursing Receives $1.4M T32 Grant from National Institutes of Health

The award will fund a new training program to address social determinants of health, aiming to attract students from underrepresented backgrounds and partner with nursing schools without research doctorate programs.


Duke University School of Nursing is the recipient of a T32 grant award from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The $1.4 million grant, to be distributed over five years, will fund the School’s innovative Nurse-LEADS program (Training in Nurse-LEd models of care ADdressing the Social determinants of health). 

“We’re proud to be awarded a T32 grant as part of our commitment to advancing nursing science to help ensure that a diverse and highly trained scientific workforce is available to assist in solving some of our nation’s most pressing health challenges,” said Dr. Sharron L. Docherty, Vice Dean for Research, Duke University School of Nursing. “Nurses, as the largest and most trusted segment of the healthcare workforce, are uniquely positioned to lead national efforts advancing health equity.”  

The NIH T32 award supports predoctoral/postdoctoral research training and enables institutions to recruit for training in specified shortage areas, with the goal to prepare trainees for careers that significantly impact the nation’s health-related research needs. Nurse-LEADS will recruit and retain pre- and postdoctoral trainees from groups underrepresented in nursing science for advanced research training in health equity, social determinants of health, and nurse-led models of care.  

“Nurse-LEADS is a cornerstone training program helping us to realize our mission to advance health equity,” said Dr. Rosa M. Gonzalez-Guarda, Co-Director of the program and Assistant Dean of the PhD Program at Duke University School of Nursing. “Although there is overwhelming evidence that social determinants of health (SDOH) are the main drivers of population health outcomes and health equity, nurses have not traditionally received training on how to develop, test, and disseminate interventions to address the social determinants of health.” 

This training program will provide emerging nurse scientists with the knowledge, expertise, and support to develop nurse-led models of care to address the major drivers of health and health inequities in our country and across the globe. Trainees will participate in career development activities, monthly Nurse-LEADS seminars, three courses involving experiential learning practicums, tailored learning experiences drawing from seminars, workshops, and courses from participating departments at Duke, and training in the responsible conduct of research. Additionally, postdoctoral trainees will be required to complete pilot research contributing to a nurse-led model of care addressing SDOH and mentor predoctoral trainees. 

The program will partner with two minority-serving institutions without research doctorate training programs in nursing, North Carolina Central University (NCCU) and the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP), to attract nurses from underrepresented backgrounds. Trainees will be supported by mentoring teams that include mentors from underrepresented backgrounds and experts addressing SDOH.  

Upon completion of the program, T32 fellows will be prepared to launch a program of research that addresses health equity and SDOH by design, leveraging engagement science, multisector partnerships, digital health, and advanced analytics to address the fundamental social and structural causes of health inequities.  

“Nurse-LEADS will support Duke University School of Nursing as an innovator in education, research, and community engagement, driving equitable improvements in health care delivery and outcomes,” added Ryan Shaw, Co-Director of the program and Associate Professor in the School of Nursing. “These skills will enable trainees to develop innovative, evidence-based care models that address social determinants of health and enhance health outcomes.” 

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