The spring 2018 proposal deadline is February 28, 2018.
Contact Alexandra de Havilland, Assistant Director, with any inquiries.
Tel: (919) 681-0475.

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 Duke University faculty and staff 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.

Selected grants awarded from fall 2017 cycle:

Human Sexual Function
No submissions
Medical History
Professor Seth LeJacq 

“Knowing Sexual Violence: Communities, criminal courts, and sexual forensics in early modern Britain”

Medical Ethics and Humanities

Professor Jennifer Ahern-Dodson

“Advancing faculty scholarship in medicine”

Professor Mark Olson

“Neuroplicity: Neuroscience for everyone”

Dr. Neil Prose

“Keepers of the house” – A unique medical curriculum in empathy, teamwork, and implicit bias

Professor Jeff Ward

“Disclosure, consent, and privacy for brain-computer interface enhancements”

International Studies

Professor Robert Healy
Professor Natalia Mirovitskaya

“Development for the New Arctic: visions, strategies, and challenges at the sub-national leve ”

Professor Heileen Hsu-Kim
Professor William Pan

“Measuring exposures to toxic metals (mercury, lead, arsenic, cadmium) in blood from adults and children”

Dr. Megan Huchko

“Global reproductive health leadership symposium”

Professor Tana Johnson

“Non-governmental organizations in global governance”

Ms. Anna Kipervaser

“The Sargasso Sea”

Professor Simon Miles

“Engaging the “Evil Empire: East-West relations in the second cold war”

Mr. Christopher Sims

“Oral histories of Iraqi and Afghan roleplayers at Fort Irwin, California”

Professor Helen Solterer
Professor Elvira Vilches
Professor Raqual Salvatella de Prada

“inTransit: Arts in migration”


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 for information. Tel: (919) 681-0475.

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 or 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

Committee Members

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 Duke University faculty and staff 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.