The Donald B. Hackel Fellowship in Cardiovascular Pathology

Donald B. Hackel, MD, and his wife, Irene Hackel, were part of the fabric of Duke University Medical Center for decades.  They made an extraordinary and lasting contribution to the Department of Pathology to bolster a fellowship endowment, named for Dr. Hackel (who died in 1994) but honoring both him and his wife (who passed away on August 18, 2020).

Dr. Hackel was Professor of Pathology at Duke from 1960 to 1991, during which time he established himself as a world-class cardiac pathologist, investigator in the field of myocardial ischemia, and educator of the first order.  Though he retired in 1991, several current Duke faculty members and a larger group at other institutions had the benefit of his teaching and friendship and remember him with great fondness and respect.  His humility, humanity, quiet dignity, and kindness were a model worthy of emulation by any physician.

Irene Hackel was a pillar of support for her husband, family, and community, but also for the Duke School of Medicine, particularly through her deep involvement with the Nearly New Shoppe, a thrift store created and operated by the Duke Faculty Wives.  Through the sale of items donated by faculty members, the Nearly New Shoppe provided affordable clothing and household necessities for Durham residents while generating millions of dollars in scholarship funding for Duke medical students.

Irene and Donald Hackel

In 1989, just before Dr. Hackel’s retirement, the Donald B. Hackel Fellowship in Cardiovascular Pathology was established, supporting a year of training in pathology for Duke medical students following their second year of medical school.  The fellowship was partially capitalized by a generous charitable gift annuity (CGA) created by Dr. and Mrs. Hackel.  The CGA provided guaranteed lifetime income for the couple until Mrs. Hackel’s passing, with the remaining balance allocated to the Fellowship. As a result, once the investment account is liquidated, more than a quarter-million dollars will be added to the endowment. Extensive additional funds were provided by the Departments of Pathology, Medicine, and Surgery; and through individual contributions from dozens of donors.  Since 2004, when the endowment had grown to the level necessary to begin supporting trainees, the fellowship has provided third-year research funding for five students, three of whom have started or are planning careers as pathologists.  This year, Hackel Fellowship funding has been allocated for two additional students pursuing an extra post-sophomore fellowship year in pathology.

The Department of Pathology is grateful to Donald and Irene Hackel; their children Connie Katz, Dr. Andrea Hackel, and Richard Hackel; and extended family members, including nephew Bill Lebow, for their generous support.  The Hackel Fellowship will help ensure the training of young pathologists for years to come.

Thanks to their thoughtful planning and generosity, the Hackels’ legacy will live on at Duke through the fellowship fund.  If you would like to learn more about CGAs or other strategic giving vehicles, please reach out to Morgan Pope, Director of Development for the Department of Pathology, at 919-451-5093 or