Statements and Messages

The Duke Human Vaccine Institute is a highly collaborative research institute and a diverse community committed to the principles of excellence, fairness, and respect for all people. 

Furthermore, we believe that a diversity of perspectives will lead to the most innovative solutions for addressing the world's public health problems.

March 2023

The Duke Human Vaccine Institute wishes to express its strong support of the School of Medicine’s message about Transgender Day of Visibility.   

In state legislatures across the United States, the rights of gender minorities, including transgender and non-binary youth, are being targeted with varying degrees of legal success. In North Carolina, these bills include HB 574, HB 673, SB 49, SB 631, SB 560, SB 636, and SB 639. These bills make the entire transgender community feel unwelcome and under attack in our state.  

Transgender and non-binary youth are a vulnerable population; estimates from surveys find that more than 50% of transgender and non-binary youth seriously considered attempting suicide over a one-year period. Also, peer-reviewed studies have found that transgender and non-binary youth who experience discrimination are at higher risk of attempting suicide (Price-Freeny et al. 2020 and Project #Queery). Additional information about suicide and mental health in LGBTQ+ youth can be found at The Trevor Project website.  

As an institute that works to make a successful HIV-1 vaccine, we underscore the significance of HIV-1 in the transgender community. In particular, transgender women of color in the United States are disproportionately impacted by HIV. We invite you to learn more from the CDC about HIV seroprevalence and diagnoses in the transgender community. Full details of the CDC’s research on the impact of HIV-1 in transgender women can be found in this report

We acknowledge that the wellbeing of members of our community is affected by events occurring outside of DHVI and Duke. At DHVI, we continue to work to create a community that is welcoming and affirming for gender and sexual minority individuals. We welcome feedback on our efforts. The Duke University Center For Sexual And Gender Diversity and The Sexual and Gender Diversity Advisory Council (SAGDAC) provide comprehensive resources to educate yourself for making DHVI a place where everyone can experience belonging. 

- Elizabeth Van Italie, Christin Daniels, Amanda Newman, and Kevin Saunders on behalf of the DHVI Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee

- Barton Haynes, Tom Denny, and Michelle Smith for the DHVI leadership team 



It is hard to imagine that trying to be your authentic self can place your life at risk. However, the murder of five people in the mass shooting in Colorado Springs, Colorado, on Saturday, November 19, 2022, underscores the injustice, prejudice, and discrimination that members of the LGBTQ+ community face in our nation. While assaults on marginalized groups in our society are becoming commonplace, we must all do our part to make the Duke Human Vaccine Institute a fair and safe space for all on the DHVI team. We should also recognize that DHVI members of the LGBTQ+ community are dealing with a range of emotions as they mourn the loss of members of their community and grapple with the question of where can they feel safe? We want to make it clear that we support our members of the LGBTQ+ community. We salute the heroes who intervened during the attack in Colorado and saved numerous lives. We stand together with everyone affected by this tragedy.

Here are some Duke resources that may help support those processing their reactions to this event.

Personal Assistance Service (PAS) (919-416-1727) offers free, confidential support and counseling to all employees, including faculty, staff, and postdocs, and to their benefit-eligible dependents. 

Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) (919-660-1000) supports the psychological and emotional well-being of our campus community.

The Duke Center for Healthcare Safety & Quality also offers well-being resources.  

Students should visit here for a list of wellness resources and support services. The Multicultural Resource Center is also there for you.  

And the Duke Center for Gender and Sexual Diversity offers a welcoming space and is another source of support.


Bart Haynes, DHVI Director

Tom Denny, DHVI Chief Operating Officer

Kevin Saunders, Faculty Chairperson, DHVI Diversity and Inclusion Committee

Transgender Day of Remembrance is observed annually on November 20 to memorialize those murdered as a result of transphobia worldwide.

Information and statistics

A message celebrating Pride Month (2021)

The Duke Human Vaccine Institute fosters a culture of inclusion of individuals from diverse backgrounds. In particular, June is a time to specifically uplift our LGBTQ+ colleagues. While June is indeed Pride Month, our goal is to value, appreciate, and support our LGBTQ+ colleagues throughout the year. Below we have listed three events related to Duke and DHVI where you can show your support for the LGBTQ+ community, learn about the experiences of your LGBTQ+ colleagues at Duke, and find out how to be an ally.

June 24, 2021 - Duke Health Summer Panel Series: Celebrating Pride with our LGBTQ Colleagues

Duke's Virtual Pride Parade by the Duke LGBTQ+ Network - Virtual march.

LGBTQ+ Leaders in STEM Panel Discussion

June 30, 2021 - North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences | Raleigh

A message about the Chauvin trial verdict from Duke Human Vaccine Institute leadership

It is incumbent upon us as Americans to recognize the significance of the verdict in the Chauvin trial. It is undoubtedly a landmark in our country’s journey to become a more just version of itself. It is a signal to our country that we should respect each other as people first beyond our race, economic status, orientation, political ideology, religion, gender, or ethnicity. However, let us not be mistaken in thinking this verdict means change. Change will not come from any single verdict, but instead comes from each of us deciding to value one another. That is what the George Floyd death has meant for this nation. It has caused each of us to ask do we really value the community of people around us that speak, look, and even vote differently than we do. While Americans of color took a collective sigh of relief yesterday, it is not a time for rejoicing in victory. The work to eliminate social injustice and prejudices of all types is not complete. Instead, each of us should reflect on yesterday’s events and ask ourselves since the summer of 2020 what have I learned about myself and my beliefs. We hope that after that period of reflection you will decide to stand with the DHVI leadership in denouncing and eliminating discrimination against all underrepresented groups of people. When we individually make that decision, then collectively change will occur.

Duke Human Vaccine Institute statement on violence against Asian and Asian-American communities

We are deeply saddened by the attacks against Asian and Asian-American communities over the last year and grieve the unnecessary loss of eight lives in the recent heinous attacks in the Atlanta area. At DHVI, we continue to affirm our stance against hate and racism and call for each of our members to actively promote inclusion, social justice, and positive change for our nation. DHVI leadership stands united with the leadership of School of Medicine in denouncing senseless violence and bigotry against Asian, Asian-American, and Pacific Islander communities. 

D&I leadership statement on Jacob Blake shooting

The shooting of Jacob Blake by police, followed by the killing of two protestors in Kenosha, Wisconsin, only underscores the state of inequality that persists in American society. The DHVI will continue to affirm its stance against racial inequality and call for each of its members to actively promote social justice and change for our nation. The leadership of the DHVI stands with the leadership of the School of Medicine in denouncing senseless gun violence and police brutality against black and brown Americans.

DHVI will continue to strive to be a diverse, inclusive, and equitable institution. We will also continue to address the societal issues that affect the institute’s employees, because these societal problems will persist as long as they are ignored. Our DHVI Perspectives seminar series will continue this month on September 21st with a focus on civil rights activism. For this discussion, we will be joined by civil rights law professor Timothy Lovelace of the Duke School of Law. In closing, we reaffirm our stance that lives of marginalized groups matter, we are all more alike than we are different, and each of us has the power to create a more just and equitable society.

Important message from the Diversity and Inclusion committee and the Duke Human Vaccine Institute leadership

The Duke Human Vaccine Institute is deeply saddened by the senseless deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and too many other Americans of color. We grieve alongside their families and our fellow Americans over the loss of another black citizen at the hands of police brutality, racism, and disregard for the dignity of people of color. These deaths have led to heightened awareness of the need for fostering diversity and inclusion more than ever. These deaths, and the resulting protests, have affected all of us in some way. Our emotional responses may be further complicated, or even exacerbated, by the lack of personal interactions and routines resulting from pandemic-associated isolation.

In acknowledgement of the emotions that our DHVI community is experiencing, the DHVI leadership and the Diversity and Inclusion committee all believe it is important to provide an avenue to discuss how recent events are affecting the employees of DHVI. We also want to make it clear to all DHVI employees that DHVI promotes diversity and inclusion and is committed to fighting against racism and systemic oppression. We proudly stand with our black and brown communities and all those speaking out against racism. 

To this end, we will host a series of virtual meetings called DHVI Perspectives. The DHVI Perspectives series will provide a forum for DHVI employees to express questions, experiences, and reflections that bear on the challenging events taking place in our country. The first of these series of discussions will be June 8 during the DHVI townhall meeting. We hope that if voices are heard, we can learn from each other in order to make DHVI a more inclusive place. The DHVI is a diverse community committed to the principles of excellence, fairness, and respect for all people.