Renowned Duke Cancer Institute neurosurgeon-scientist Peter Fecci, MD, PhD, is one of three School of Medicine faculty members to be inducted this year into the American Society for Clinical Investigation (ASCI).
Founded in 1908, the ASCI is one of the nation’s oldest and most respected nonprofit medical honor societies and is focused on the role of physician-scientists in research, clinical care, and medical education.
A member of DCI as well as the Alpha Omega Alpha Medical Honor Society since 2015, Fecci is an associate professor of neurosurgery, pathology, and immunology at Duke University School of Medicine, where he also serves as director of the Duke Center for Brain and Spine Metastasis at DCI and director of the Department of Neurosurgery's Brain Tumor Immunotherapy Program. He is also associate deputy director of the Preston Robert Tisch Brain Tumor Center at DCI.
Fecci's programmatic interests are in the design, optimization, and monitoring of immune-based treatment platforms for patients with intracranial brain tumors, whether primary or metastatic. His research looks at the barriers to immuno-therapeutic success, with a particular focus on understanding and reversing T cell dysfunction in patients with glioblastoma (a lethal primary brain tumor) and brain metastases (cancer that doesn't originate in the brain but spreads to the brain).
Fecci is a national expert in laser interstitial thermal therapy (LITT), a minimally invasive surgical technique that kills relatively small tumors using heat generated by lasers and that can also be used to treat tissue that’s been damaged by previous radiation. (Duke is one of the highest volume centers for LITT in the United States).
He's currently working with Duke biomedical engineers on a new technique that uses gold nanoparticles called nanostars to improve the range of the laser to larger tumors.
Fecci has been the recipient of numerous research grants since he joined the faculty at Duke in 2014 as an assistant professor in the Department of Neurosurgery, including from the National Institutes of Health and Department of Defense.
Current projects he's involved with include —
As a principal investigator:
- NINDS Research Education Programs for Residents and Fellows in Neurosurgery awarded by National Institutes of Health 2009 - 2025 (co-principal investigator)
- Development of BARR2 Small Molecule Inhibitors for Brain Cancer Therapy awarded by Charlie Teo Foundation 2021 - 2023
- A Novel Clinical Challenge in Brain Tumor Immunology: T cell Sequestration awarded by National Institutes of Health 2016 - 2021
As a collaborating investigator:
- Targeting tumor-neural cell interactions to inhibit lung cancer brain metastasis awarded by National Institutes of Health 2021 - 2026
- Identification of actionable networks promoting breast cancer progression and brain metastasis awarded by Department of Defense 2018 - 2021
- Validation of Novel Therapeutic Approach for Leptomeningeal Metastases awarded by Minnetronix, Inc 2016 - 2021 (co-investigator)
As a mentor:
- Basic Immunology Training Program awarded by National Institutes of Health 2002 - 2025
- Duke CTSA (TL1) awarded by National Institutes of Health 2018 - 2023
- Medical Scientist Training Program awarded by National Institutes of Health 1997 - 2022
- Translational Research in Surgical Oncology awarded by National Institutes of Health 2002 - 2021
Fecci earned his MD and his PhD at Duke (2007), did his internship in General Surgery (2007-2008) and residency in Neurosurgery (2008-2013) at Massachusetts General Hospital, and concurrently completed a post-doc at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (2010-2012). From 2013 to 2014, he served as an instructor in Neurosurgery at Mass. General.
Fecci's formal induction into ASCI took place at a joint meeting in April of the ASCI, the Association of American Physicians (AAP), and the American Physician-Scientists Association (APSA).
Michael Cohen-Wolkowiez, MD, PhD, the Kiser-Arena Distinguished Professor of Pediatrics at Duke University School of Medicine and head of Pediatric Research at the Duke Clinical Research Institute, and Mark A. Herman, MD, an associate professor in the Endocrinology, Metabolism, and Nutrition Division of the Department of Medicine at Duke University School of Medicine and a member of the Duke Molecular Physiology Institute, were the other two inductees from Duke.
The original announcement about all three 2021 ASCI inductees was published by Lindsay Key on the Duke University School of Medicine blog on April 29.