Blue Devil of the Week: A Creative Team Builder in Clinical Research

Lorna Dula is ‘hopelessly’ in love with people as associate director of research operations at the Duke Office of Clinical Research

Lorna Dula has put her natural
Lorna Dula has put her natural "people person" skills to good use at the Duke Office of Clinical Research. Photo by Beth Hatcher.

Lorna Dula

Associate Director of Research Operations, Duke Office of Clinical Research

Years at Duke: Four

What I do at Duke: I manage day-to-day training and communications for the Duke Office of Clinical Research, which provides support for personnel performing clinical research across the Duke Health. We’re here as a service to the research community. We offer training courses, outreach, study start-up, study coordination, database assistance and communications help to the research community. We also offer classes, both instructor led and Web-based. We manage researchers’ required learning so that they can do all the research that they need to do. I’m a trainer. I love to train. I’m a people person. I was probably born talking and I’m pretty sure that my mother didn’t have to teach me a word.

What I love about Duke: I think that Duke has some of the most fascinating people I’ve ever met. I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2008 and Duke was my healthcare facility. Duke is a large institution yet we are able to treat you like you’re not at a large institution. People get treated like humans. Duke does become your family.

A memorable day at work: I was on my way to a training class at Duke North and a heart transplant patient stopped me in the hallway to ask me where I was going in such a hurry. We talked a bit as he walked with me to my training class about his stay at the hospital and as I began the class later, which was about Maestro Care, the electronic health record system, I was able to use that man’s story as an example of a type of patient that the new system would help. It was really a full circle kind of moment.

Something unique about my office: I collect angels and have them in my office. I have two or three that I take with me everywhere I go. I have a strong religious belief. I believe in miracles and here at Duke we see them every day.

First ever job: The water bill department in my county (Caldwell County in western North Carolina). My mother’s friend was the office manager and I guess she owed my mother something because she hired me. My favorite customer was my grandmother. I was devoted to the job. I did whatever they asked me to do, no matter how boring it was.

Best advice ever received: Just be true to yourself. Be yourself at all costs no matter who people expect you to be. I firmly believe that what you give out you get. I’m hopelessly in love with people. I want them to leave my presence with a smile on their face.

Something most people don’t know about me: I’m really very shy. I like to watch other people accomplish. I don’t really like to toot my own horn. I get my greatest joy in watching other people reach their heights.

If I could have a superpower: I would be invisible. I would secretly do things for other people to make them happy.

If I wasn’t doing this job I would be: I would have my own retreat in the country for teenagers. I must have a teenager’s brain. I get them. I like the way their brains work. I like the way they say what they feel.