Science Market Update

Gorgeous New Building for Medical Students Opens at Duke University

Posted by Jennifer Nieuwkerk on Mon, Feb 18, 2013

Medical students at Duke University finally have their own home after being spread out over the medical campus for 73 years. Filled with natural light from the glass walls and study nooks for doing work, this building is a gorgeous feat of architecture. It has been named the Mary Duke Biddle Trent Semans Center for Health Education, and it’s located right in the middle of the medical campus. The center provides a space for medical students who used to have to study in the basement of Duke Medicine’s Purple Zone, the Davison Building and every so often, spaces rented for large gatherings.

"Our old educational space was pretty dated. It was built in 1930, and it showed, I'm afraid," said Dr. Nancy Andrews, dean of Duke's School of Medicine. Of the new medical center, she added, "It's designed not for the medical education of the past, but for medical education as we anticipate it might be in 2020 and beyond.”


Mary Duke Biddle Trent Semans Center for Health Education

The Mary Duke Biddle Trent Semans Center for Health Education

Image courtesy of Duke University


According to, the new state-of-the-art center is six stories, 104,000 square feet and cost the university $53 million. Its name, the Mary Duke Biddle Trent Semans Center for Health Education, was chosen for a benefactor who died in January 2011 at 91 years old. A granddaughter of one of the founders of Duke University, Semans was a long-time philanthropist. Other central parts of the center include patient simulation labs and flexible learning spaces.

“We have not had new, dedicated space for our students for more than 80 years,” said Nancy Andrews, dean of the medical school. “We’ve been waiting a long time for this and this is absolutely wonderful — for the students, for the faculty, for the entire Duke community.”


Mary Duke Biddle Trent Semans Center for Health Education

Interior of the Semans Center for Health Education

Image courtesy of Duke University


The Herald-Sun reports that the Mary Duke Biddle Trent Semans Center’s great learning hall on the main floor can hold up to 400 students at once. In the event that more people need to be accommodated, the outer walls can be moved. If students need a more intimate atmosphere for studying, partitions can also be used to create smaller spaces. Other areas of the building can also transform themselves similarly.

“This will allow us to do things we’ve never been able to do before,” said Colleen Grochowski, associate dean for curricular affairs. “We can have large-group learning or small-group learning. Nothing is bolted to the ground. Everything — all the chairs and desks — are on wheels, and can be adapted to whatever need there is.”

According to The Chronicle, Dr. Nancy Andrews and others at Duke University believe they now house the most modern student medical center of any university in the country. Duke may be able to attract top medical students with the Mary Duke Biddle Trent Semans Center, making the admissions process all the more competitive. Perhaps most importantly, Duke University will be training the nation’s top doctors and researchers in an advanced and highly functional new space.

Some recent funding highlights from Duke University include:
  • NSF 2009 Ranking: 3rd (total R&D expenditures in life sciences) = $673,352,000
  • NIH 2011 Ranking: 12th (Direct plus indirect costs but excluding R & D contracts and ARRA awards) = $340,621,618
  • Susan G. Komen for the Cure has mobilized a global network of activism and fundraising to fight breast cancer. Some of those funds have now been put to work at Duke. In fiscal year 2012, the Komen foundation awarded eight grants totaling over $1.87 million to Duke researchers. Since 1982, Komen has funded 47 research grants totaling nearly $15 million at Duke and Duke University Medical Center.
  • Duke University received a $10.2 million grant for (Umbilical) Cord Blood Research. In order to translate advances in cell therapy to patient care, specifically in the therapeutic use of umbilical cord blood stem cells.

If you are a science researcher or lab supplier interested in networking with others in your field at Duke University, Biotechnology Calendar, Inc. invites you to attend our annual science research trade show, the Duke BioResearch Product Faire™ Event, on May 9, 2013. Biotechnology Calendar, Inc. is a full-service science research marketing and event-planning company.  For more information on this upcoming Duke University event, click on the appropriate button below.


Tags: 2014, 2013, Medical Research, Duke University, North Carolina, Mary Duke Biddle Trent Semans Center, Southern, BioResearch Product Faire Event, Durham, NIH, NC, science researcher, science research trade show, Duke, NSF, new Building, lab supplier

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