From Division to Department: A History of Duke EM


Photo above: Duke's Department of Emergency Medicine logo

Duke University Emergency Medicine has long been a leader in providing emergency care, training the next generation of emergency physicians, and advancing the science of emergency medicine. Although it is difficult to believe, there was once a time when there were no emergency medicine residency-trained physicians practicing in the Duke University Hospital Emergency Department. 

Below are some significant milestones for Duke Emergency Medicine (Duke EM) from the last few decades. 


Kathleen Clem is appointed the first Chief of an academic Division of Emergency Medicine at Duke University School of Medicine. She served for 9 years at Duke as the first female Division Chief in the Department of Surgery. 


Shortly after Dr. Clem’s arrival, Susan Promes is named Director of the Emergency Medicine Residency.

Duke EM participates in its first funded research study and hires its first research staff.



The first class of Duke EM residents graduates.



Duke EM transitions from its previous practice location into its current footprint in Duke University Hospital.

As a division, Duke EM established fellowships in ultrasound, EMS, research, and global health, as well as a partnership in sports medicine, and hyperbaric fellowships. 


Erica Casey graduates as the first EM Global Health fellow


Duke EM receives its first NIH K Award: Addressing High Risk Alcohol Use Amongst Injury Patients in the Emergency Department, Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Center.


Duke EM establishes the Research Resident Fellowship.


Duke EM receives its first NIH U Award: Duke Pain Early-phase Research Clinical Center (PERCC).

Duke EM faculty members promotes to Professor.


Duke EM receives its first NIH R01 Award: PRACT: A Pragmatic Randomized Adaptive Clinical Trial to Investigate Controlling Alcohol-related Harms in a Low-Income Setting; Emergency Department Brief Interventions in Tanzania


Dr. Catherine Staton is the first Duke EM Associate Professor with Tenure.


Duke EM partners with the Duke Global Health Institute for the first time to inaugurate the GEMINI Research Center. 



The division of Emergency Medicine elevates to Department status in Duke’s School of Medicine, and Dr. Charles Gerardo becomes interim department chair.

The Department of EM establishes a Section of Translational Health Science, comprised of multi-disciplinary research faculty led by Dr. Joao Vissoci.

We owe a debt of gratitude to all those members of Duke EM who have come before us and created the foundation for our current achievement.

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The Duke Department of Emergency Medicine relies on individual gifts and philanthropic partnerships to help support our clinical, research, and educational missions and to secure funds for the future.