CTSI Profile: Deborah Waddell Jackson

March 9, 2018

As a program coordinator for the Duke CTSA KL2 program, Deborah Waddell Jackson handles everything from coordinating meetings and appointments to organizing conferences and making sure program requirements are achieved through both group and individual activities. Deborah’s administrative background with office management and event planning helps make her well suited for her position, and as she describes it, she acts as the central component between the program’s leadership team and its scholars.

“For our continued success with this program, it’s vitally important to have a liaison between leadership and the scholars to help keep the program organized and to keep everyone on track,” Deborah said.

One of the biggest projects Deborah spearheads with her team is the KL2/TL1 Career Development Symposium, which will take place this year on May 1. During this annual symposium, scholars present updates on their research projects and participate in a panel session to showcase the depth of clinical and translational research being conducted by this amazing group of future researchers. This year, Duke BIRCWH scholars and KL2 scholars from UNC and Wake Forest will participate and present at the symposium for the first time.

Deborah started in her role in May 2017, but she began her career at Duke 10 years ago. Throughout her career, she has worked as a program coordinator for the Geriatrics and the Sarcoma Multi-disciplinary team, a manager in oncology, and a clinical research coordinator/recruitment coordinator for the Duke Asthma, Allergy and Airway Research Center. What attracted Deborah to working at Duke was its progressive reputation and the opportunity to be involved with cutting-edge research. Another motivator was that her late father worked in health care and he demonstrated a caring spirt that she wanted to mimic.

“Witnessing cutting-edge research that quickly transcends from bench to bedside is nothing short of astonishing,” she said. “Research still remains a huge question mark in many communities, especially for people of color. I think it’s incumbent of me to help educate folks whenever possible in the hopes of elevating research awareness and abolishing old myths.”

Outside work, Deborah is passionate about her philanthropic work with the limb loss community. Her son, Desmond Jackson, is an above-knee amputee and Paralympic sprinter. He competed in the 2016 Paralympics as the youngest male member of the U.S. track and field team. Deborah and her son hope that his story can help inspire the disabled youth.

“We want them to know that you don’t have to watch from the sidelines; you can get in the game too.” she said. “By encouraging and making them aware of the services and programs that are available, we can show these youth that anything is possible.”

Personally and professionally, Deborah puts her passion and creativity behind the work she does. Her strong work ethic and desire to do the best work possible drives her in her daily life.

“My mom, a retired teacher, always said, no matter what job you’re doing, do your very best,” she said. “And hopefully, I’ve followed in her footsteps.”