Skip to main content

News & Media

News & Media Front Page

A Look Back at 2018

Highlights from the Duke Health System


Shawn Rocco
Shawn Rocco
919-668-0994 Email

2018 was a year of firsts for Duke Health. It started with North Carolina’s first organ transplant between an HIV-positive donor and recipient. The successful liver transplant, which included a team of infectious disease specialists, demonstrated that more people on the organ transplant waiting list could benefit from this expanded pool of potential donors.

Then in October, Duke’s transplant and plastic surgery teams, led by Dr. Deb Sudan and Dr. Detlev Erdmann became the first in the state to perform an abdominal wall and intestinal transplant. And on Thanksgiving Day, another team, led by Dr. Linda Cendales, performed a bi-lateral hand transplant. It was another first for North Carolina.

In July the New England Journal of Medicine published research from the Preston Robert Tisch Brain Tumor Center which showed promising treatment of lethal glioblastoma brain tumors with a modified poliovirus therapy. The therapy is now being tested as a treatment for melanoma and testing will soon begin for breast cancer.

In the lab, researchers continued to learn more about the impacts of our modern – and often sedentary – lifestyles. Duke led a large study that found unhealthy weight is the reason about one quarter of obese children with asthma developed the lung disease in the first place. Research also found that people with irregular sleep patterns weighed more, had higher blood sugar, blood pressure, and higher risks of heart attack or stroke than people with regular sleep schedules.

But there was some good news – Duke researchers discovered that short bursts of moderately intense exercise, even just a few minutes spread throughout the day, count toward daily requirements to reduce risk of heart disease and death.

Faculty also continued to receive strong support from federal funding agencies. A $20 million grant, awarded to a team led by Dr. Shelley Hwang at the Duke Cancer Institute, will fund a national clinical trial exploring best treatments for early breast tumors.

The Duke Clinical & Translational Science Institute was also awarded a five-year grant of more than $60 million from the National Institutes of Health to advance innovative ideas from the point of discovery to clinical implementation.

But groundbreaking research and new surgical techniques are only one part of the story.

In November, Duke University Health System again achieved Magnet Recognition. The credential, from the American Nurses Credentialing Center, is the highest national honor for professional nursing practices.

The designation is a testament to Duke Health’s continued dedication to high-quality patient care – both at the bedside and in the extra curricular activities that staff produce on a volunteer basis.

Some of the highlights included a Valentine’s Day dinner for parents of pediatric patients, a prom at the Children’s Hospital, and a number of weddings for longer staying ICU patients.

2018 once again showed a balanced perspective in advancing health together. A mission that Duke Health is poised to continue into 2019 and beyond.


News & Media Front Page