As Director of the Primary Care Research Consortium (PCRC), Rowena J. Dolor, MD, MHS, works on projects with many different areas of focus, from diabetes and hypertension to cardiovascular diseases and depression. What makes this work enjoyable for Rowena is that she’s able to tackle studies that matter to the local community, and every day her work can look a little different.
“When you’re in residency, everyone is thinking about what medical specialty they’re going to go into,” she said. “I had trouble choosing one because I liked everything, so primary care was a perfect fit.”
Rowena has directed the PCRC since 1996, and in that time she and her team have tackled more than 100 studies with the Duke University Health System and other community-based clinicians. More recently, her team completed a study with UNC, East Carolina University, and the Carolinas HealthCare System (now Atrium Health) that compared three practice-level dissemination strategies for shared decision-making in asthma care. Along with that, the group is working on a number of studies around advanced care planning, COPD screening, and long-term opioid use for chronic pain.
Rowena strives to highlight the important work being done by the PCRC, but she is also driven by the group’s mission to work with community clinicians and train the next generation of practice-based researchers. The PCRC often collaborates with local clinicians to get them more involved in research, and creates toolkits with research best practices to help researchers replicate their methods. Rowena’s motivation for this outreach stems from her childhood, watching her father’s work as a clinician in a private practice.
“It’s great that we’re able to invite clinicians to participate in research and learn more about new developments,” she said. “Hopefully our work can help speed up the translational research process.”
Along with the PCRC, Rowena also serves as a co-investigator for the MURDOCK Study and an Associate Professor with Tenure in the Department of Medicine. Prior to joining Duke’s faculty, Rowena completed her medical training and internal medicine residency at Duke. Rowena said the innovative research and exceptional faculty are what’s kept her working for Duke, even as a change in her husband’s employment has moved her and her family to Nashville, TN.
When it comes to shaping her career goals and ambitions, Rowena credits the leadership and mentors she’s worked with at Duke, including David Simel, Robert Califf, and Nancy Allen.
“In my experience, no one mentor can advise you on your path,” she said. ““My mentors at Duke have provided me with the foundation and skills I need to succeed.”