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Nancy Andrews, PhD '85

MD-PhD graduate leads Duke Medical School

Nancy Andrews is a woman of two worlds. “I studied in the MIT-Harvard MD-PhD program because I was interested in both medicine and basic science,” says Andrews, who has continued to pursue these dual interests in academe. Last year, in fact, she became the first woman dean of Duke University School of Medicine and the only woman to lead one of the nation’s top 10 medical schools.

Nancy Andrews on vacation with her two children.

After earning her PhD in biology and life sciences, Andrews received an MD from Harvard Medical School in 1987. She completed her residency at Children’s Hospital in Boston and a fellowship in pediatric hematology and oncology at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. By 1991, Andrews was a pediatrics instructor at Harvard, where in 2003 she was named to an endowed chair as full professor and became dean for basic sciences and graduate studies.

While teaching at Harvard, Andrews directed the MD-PhD program, where she led the development of its current curriculum. “There are such rich interfaces between clinical practice and basic science,” she says. “The faster we can move across that spectrum, the more we can accelerate efforts to improve human health.”

Andrews has taken this passion for cross-­pollination to Duke, where she wants to build on the university’s tradition of multidisciplinary collaboration. “Duke’s innovative curriculum includes bridging the gap between clinical practice and basic research,” she says. “I want to develop a culture that encourages this connection.”

Among her seminal experiences at MIT, Andrews recalls working in Professor David Baltimore’s lab while the Nobel laureate helped establish the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research. “At the time, there weren’t many independent research institutes that were affiliated with a university,” she says. “The Whitehead was ahead of its time, showing how important work could be done outside of traditional departmental structures.”

When she wants to unwind, Andrews enjoys cooking. Her husband, Bernard Mathey-Prevot, who directed the Drosophila RNAi Screening Center at Harvard and is now a faculty member at Duke, enjoys the results–and so do their children, 12-year-old Nicolas and 15-year-old Camille.

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