Josiah Charles Trent Memorial Foundation Endowment Fund

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The Spring 2017 proposal deadline is March 24, 2017.
Contact Alexandra de Havilland, Assistant Director with any inquiries.  

Fall 2016 Grants Awarded

Human Sexual Function

Dr. Jonathan RouTh

"Defining the Impact of Differences of Sex Development on Patients and Families"

Dr. Thomas Polascik

"Comparisons of Oncologic and Sexual Function Outcomes of Nerve-sparing Focal Cryotherapy between Posterior Located and Anterior Located Prostate Cancer"


Medical History

Professor James Chappel

"Old Volk: Aging in Three Germanies"

Professor Karin Shapiro

"The John Henry Hypothesis: Dr. Sherman James and the Impact of Stress on African-American Men"


Medical Ethics and Humanities

Dr. Raymond Barfield

"Medical Improv Conference and Training Workshop"


Professor Michaela O'Brien

"In Crystal Skin"


International Studies

Dr. Dorothy Dow

"Understanding Barriers and Successes in Transition of Adolescent to Adult HIV care in Tanzania"


Professor Maurizio Forte

"At the Emergence of Urban Transformation and Complex Societies: The Case of Vulci (Italy)"


Ms. Robin Kirk

"See/Think/Act: Human Rights and Visual Culture in the 21st"


Dr. Peter Kussin

"Knowledge and Perceptions Regarding Palliative Care among Religious Leaders in Uasin Gishu County: Survey and Focus Group Analysis"


Professor Abdeslam Maghraoui

"To Live and Die in Tazmamart: Conflict, Cooperation, and Survival Under Duress"


Professor Eve Puffer

"Cultural Adaptation of a Family-Based Intervention in Kenya"


Dr. Emily Smith

"Identifying Predictors of Post-Operative Complication in Ugandan Children"

The Trent Foundation was established in 1977 by Mary Duke Biddle Trent Semans and her second husband, Dr. James H. Semans, to honor the memory of her first husband, Dr. Josiah Charles Trent. Twice a year, in the spring and the fall, the Fund assists faculty and staff members of Duke University by providing modest grants for projects whose funding might be difficult to obtain from other sources. With the passing of Ms. Semans, the foundation has transitioned into the Josiah Charles Trent Memorial Foundation Endowment Fund.

The Fund is most interested in work that tests new ideas, projects that share cutting-edge work, or conferences or symposia that promote intellectual engagement by the Duke community. We encourage applications from junior faculty.

Advice to Applicants

We welcome and encourage inquiries from applicants regarding the fit of their projects with the foundation's interests.

Contact Alexandra de Havilland 919-681-0475 or 

See the Proposal Requirements & Reporting Guidelines for more information.

Areas of Funding

Human Sexual Function

Clinical or laboratory research involving human sexuality or reproduction, with emphasis on the psychobiological aspect of sexual function and dysfunction

Medical History

Research projects, conferences, speakers, etc. in the area of medical history

Medical Ethics and Medical Humanities

Conferences, speakers, or research on ethical issues in the fields of medical and biomedical research, treatment and practice as well as in the areas of medical professionalism, mind/body connection, spirituality/faith, and related topics; in short, humanism in medicine

International Studies

The Fund's international studies grant-making intends to increase faculty and student knowledge of other countries and/or to deepen cultural exchange. The Fund supports conferences, lectures, research, and other projects that will have a broad impact on the Duke community. We encourage projects that engage students in significant ways and that may encourage students to consider diplomatic careers. Students are not eligible for direct funding. (Note: The guidelines for this funding area were revised in 2007.)

What we fund

The Fund offers support to Duke faculty and staff for research projects, invited speakers, seed funding for pilot projects, research service learning if faculty involvement is essential to the project and the student will produce an intellectual product, and other program support. In the case of conferences, we prefer to support those held at Duke, but will consider proposals for those elsewhere. Grants normally average $3,000, with a maximum of $5,000, and are available for one year. A second request for the same project has a diminished chance of funding. If successive proposals are submitted, a summary of previous Trent funding and the relationship of the initial results to the additional request are required.

What we do not fund

The Fund does not support indirect costs, publication subventions and generally will not support visiting scholars. Neither undergraduates nor graduate students are eligible to apply for grants.

Trent Foundation Endowment Fund Committee


Dr. and Mrs. James H. Semans


Josiah C.T. Lucas
Charlotte, NC


William H. Chafe
Durham, NC

James E. Coleman
Durham, NC

Trent Jones
Ketchum, ID

Ken Harris
Matthews, NC

Karen Frush, M.D.
Durham, NC

Margaret Humphreys, M.D.
Durham, NC


Carol Vorhaus
Executive Director

Alexandra de Havilland
Assistant Director

Trent Foundation History

The Trent Foundation was established in 1977 by Mary Duke Biddle Trent Semans and her second husband, Dr. James H. Semans, to honor the memory of her first husband, Dr. Josiah Charles Trent. The foundation assists faculty and staff members of Duke University by providing seed grants for projects addressing medical history, medical humanities, human sexual function, and international studies. Since its inception, the Trent Foundation has awarded 504 grants totaling more than $1.39 million to Duke faculty and staff members. Together with members of the Trent and Semans families, the foundation also established the Josiah Charles Trent Professorship in the History of Medicine and the Josiah Charles Trent Scholar in Medical Humanities at Duke University, to support two of Dr. Trent’s lifelong passions.