The Duke SRC includes four research projects and five support cores. In addition to the objectives of each project and core, an overarching goal of the Duke SRC is to foster the further development of synergistic interactions among Center Investigators, their laboratories and students, and the diverse fields they represent. The SRC also places a heavy emphasis on the successful translation of research to communities and policy makers.

In humans and other vertebrates, early life development is a time of rapid growth and complex cellular differentiation and migration that is inherently sensitive to environmental influences.  Small changes in the chemical environment can influence how an individual grows when they are very young, and these changes in early growth and development can affect their health for the rest of their life. Thus, the Duke Superfund Research Center emphasizes how early life exposure to Superfund toxic chemicals impacts development and later-life health.

What is early life exposure?

Early life exposures are exposures to an individual that happen at a point early in that individual’s life and, thus, may impact normal development. These exposures can also happen to a mother and affect her unborn child. Below are some windows in time when early life exposures might happen:

  • Before birth, before a woman is pregnant
  • Before birth, while a woman is pregnant
  • After birth, during infancy
  • After birth, during childhood


Project 1: Developmental Neurotoxicants: Sensitization, Consequences, and Mechanisms
Lead Investigator: Theodore Slotkin
Department of Pharmacology and Cancer Biology

Project 2: Thyroid Metabolism Disruption in Toxicant-Induced Developmental Impairment
Lead Investigator: Heather Stapleton, Co-Investigator: Lee Ferguson
Nicholas School of the Environment, Pratt School of Engineering

Project 3: Developmental PAH Exposures in Fish: Mechanisms of Toxicity, Adaptation, and Later Life Consequences
Lead Investigator: Richard Di Giulio, Co-Investigators: David Hinton and Joel Meyer
Nicholas School of the Environment

Project 4: Metal-based Nanoparticles for Groundwater and Surface Water Remediation: Limitations, Concerns, Synergies, and Antagonistic Effects in Bioremediation
Lead Investigator: Mark Wiesner, Co-Investigators: Claudia Gunsch and Helen Hsu-Kim
Pratt School of Engineering