Betsy Myers, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation

TITLE: Program Director for Medical Research

FUNDING AREA: Medical research

CONTACT: BMyers@ddcf.org, 212-974-7000

IP TAKE: A physician herself and former researcher with decades of experience in the lab, Myers oversees millions in medical research funding annually for Doris Duke. A big priority for her team: encouraging doctors and med students to push the boundaries of medical knowledge through experimentation and discovery.

PROFILE: The Duke family has left a colorful impression on American life. There was the great businessman James "Buck" Duke, the founder of American Tobacco and namesake of Duke University in North Carolina. There was his glamorous daughter, Doris Duke, who held a nation captive with her edgy socialite antics. She hung out with Andy Warhol at Studio 54. She owned a sprawling estate in Hawaii and a mansion in Manhattan. She married multiple times. And then there are the two Doris Duke descendents who were featured in a recent long-form article in Rolling Stone, recounting their childhood of neglect and abuse, oddly coupled with vast material wealth and pet lions and snorkeling trips in Fiji. Originals, the Duke family.

So perhaps it comes as little surprise that the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation's scope is as big and bold as the family that created it. With more than $1.6 billion in assets, the foundation has a lot of money to put into grantsabout $76 million a year. The group focuses its spending on the arts, environmental conservation, medical research, and the prevention of child abuse. The foundation reports that it spends about 20 percent of its giving on medical research projects.

Leading up the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation's medical research grantmaking: Betsy Myers.

Myers comes to Doris Duke with a long history in medical research, so she's personally aware of the types of struggles that scientists in this country face when seeking funding. The former scientist spent more than two decades researching (and teaching) at Cornell University's and Harvard University's medical schools, where she focused on osteoporosis and the science of healing damaged bones. Myers's academic training includes a bachelor's in zoology, a PhD in biomechanical engineering, and postgraduate study in epidemiology. Myers began work for Doris Duke as a program officer in 2005 and assumed the position of program director for medical research in 2010.

Recently, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation awarded two grants in the medical research area, although of vastly different sizes and goals. The first is a one-year, $64,800 grant to fund 10 teams of med students/investigators in their researchthe idea being to stimulate interest in the clinician-investigator career track. The foundation's second project: a whopping $7.78 million over three years to fund 16 junior physician-scientists to support their transition from mentored scientists to independent clinical researchers. Based on what Doris Duke has chosen to fund lately, it would seem the foundation prioritizes staffing the future of medical research and making sure would-be doctors focus on innovating in the medical field, rather than just practicing it.

As of the writing of this post, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation does not have any active calls for proposals. However, the foundation does keep a list of email addresses to notify people about medical research funding opportunities as they arise. Interested parties can sign up for that list and obtain other information about Doris Duke medical research funding here.