CTSI Profile: Julie Eckstrand

January 17, 2018

Over the course of her career, Julie Eckstrand has found herself returning to Duke time and time again. She likes to say great opportunities - not to mention, perfect timing - have been in her favor.

“My Duke family knows my skills and experience, and they kept bringing me back in,” she said. “Now, I fully plan on retiring at Duke.”

Julie first joined the Duke community in 1998 as a clinical supplies pharmacist for the Duke Clinical Research Institute. After working in the private sector for a few years, she returned to Duke in 2006 to work on patient safety and quality research with Duke Health Technology Solutions, and then in the Early Phase Research Unit and Office of Research Informatics before leaving again nine years later. She returned in 2016 and now serves as the director of operations for the CTSI’s Translational Population Health Research (TransPop) team.

With TransPop, Julie leads team members in Durham and Kannapolis who manage the MURDOCK Study’s community registry and biorepository and help leverage population health research. One of Julie’s goals when she took on the role was to continue expanding TransPop’s reach and integrating the registry and biorepository into a variety of studies. She’s also excited about the larger studies the group is tackling, such as Project Baseline and the COPD Study.

“Having a community-based study is unique - there’s no equivalent in Durham,” Julie said. “Our community is able to not only help us stay engaged, but they let us know what kind of research studies matter to them. It has been one of the most eye-opening research experiences I’ve ever had.”

It’s not only the community members who make this work meaningful to Julie, but the team she manages. For her, the TransPop team is like a family; the team members truly care about each other’s well-being, and they worked diligently to ensure their work is precise.

“The dynamic is like nothing I’ve ever worked with before,” she said. “The group is like a full tank of gas. I just need to press on the gas pedal, and they’ll go as far as they can.”

The importance of teamwork and collaboration harkens back to the start of Julie’s career. Ed Hammond, director of the Duke Center for Health Informatics and Julie’s mentor, advised her to look for opportunities for collaboration in her career, as well as to say yes to everything. It’s this advice that has fueled Julie’s direction of TransPop, and it’s this advice that brought her back to Duke.