FALL 2023 cycle for grant proposals is closed.

Contact Alexandra de Havilland, Executive 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 spring 2023 cycle:

Human Sexual Functions

  • Eleanore O’Neil/Blanche Capel
    “Investigating the biological role of extracellular vesicles in sex determination”

Medical History

  • Sarah Balakrishnan
    “Ailments and Enemies: Coroners’ Juries and Public Inquests in Colonial Ghana”

  • James Chappel
    “Jacquelyne Jackson: A Story of Race and Gerontology at Duke and Beyond”

  • Adam Mestyan
    “A Medical History of Modern Cairo, 1805-2011”

Medical Ethics and Humanities

  • No awards

International Studies

  • Britt Keith
    “Coquerel’s Sifake (Propethicus Coquereli) In-Situ Captive Breeding Initiative”
  • Anne-Maria Makhulu
    “The Olive Morris Project”
  • Griffin Orlando/Alex Nickley
    “A Deep History: Travel Writings on China and Egypt” with Peter Hessler”
  • Weston Ross
    “Addressing resource-limited India dermatologic care with a low-cost cancer diagnostic device”
  • Emily Smith
    “Supporting the Poorest of the Poor: Evaluating the impact of Brazil’s Boisa Familia Program on Children’s Health”
  • Joao Ricardo Nickening Vissci
    “Applying geographic artificial intelligence to identify populations at-risk for tailings dam related disasters and prepare local disaster management plans”

The Fund is most interested in work that tests new ideas, projects that share cutting-edge work, or conferences or symposium 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 psycho biological 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. Our standard grant period is 12 months with no-cost extensions negotiable if necessary. We welcome funding requests of $500 – $10,000 per project. A second request for the same project has a diminished chance of funding.

What we do not fund

The Fund does not support indirect costs (F&A or G&A), 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

Trent Jones
Ketchum, ID

Ken Harris
Matthews, NC

Kathryn Andolsek, M.D.
Durham, NC

Margaret Humphreys, M.D.
Durham, NC

Erika Weinthal, PhD.
Durham, NC


Alexandra de Havilland
Executive 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.