SPRING 2024 cycle to submit proposals is now 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 fall 2023 cycle:

Human Sexual Functions

  • Caroline Dorfman and Juliann Stalls
    “Addressing the unmet sexual health concerns of adult male survivors of childhood, adolescent and young adult cancer”

  • Margeaux Marbrey
    “Identifying consequences of e-cigarette use in penis morphology and potential erectile dysfunction”

Medical History

  • Matthew Shutzer
    “Building the Shaheed (Martyrs) Hospital: Voluntary medicine and the struggle for life in late-twentieth century India”

Medical Ethics and Humanities

  • No awards

International Studies

  • Mara Revkin
    “Effective peacebuilding in fragile states: Lessons from South Sudan”
  • Avner Vengosh
    “Evaluation of the potential of lithium and critical mineral exploration, environmental effects and water availability in the Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia ”
  • Erik Zitser
    “Conrad vs. Empire: A library exhibit at the Rubenstein Rare Books & Special Collections Library”
  • Cesia Cotache Condor
    “Estimating the prevalence of pediatric surgical conditions in the Peruvian Andes”
  • Charles Gerardo
    “Mixed-methods formative evaluation of a culturally-and contextually-relevant care package for snakebite envenoming in the Brazilian Amazon”
  • Walter Lee
    “Promoting Healthier Connections with the World conference”

  • Eve Puffer
    “Empowering families affected by pediatric Sickle Cell Disease: A culturally-tailored approach to psychosocial support in Kenya”

  • Sharla Rent
    “Assessing perspectives and implementation strategies for a donor milk program in Ethiopia”

  • Anna Tupetz
    “Improving health by addressing unscheduled hospital re-attendances in the emergency department in Tanzania – a mixed methods pilot study”

  • Joao Ricardo Nickenig Vissoci
    “Integrating surgery, anesthesia, and obstetric (SAO) indicators in India’s health programs and policies”

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

Rebecca Stein, Ph.D.
Durham, NC

Erika Weinthal, Ph.D.
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.