Fall 2020 Symposium


October 30, 2020; Durham, NC VIRTUAL

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This day-long virtual symposium event seeks to bring together research and educational activities at the crossroads of the marine environment and human health.  Oceans and human health research leverages the unique biological and biochemical diversity of the marine environment to better understand and treat human disease.  We hope our attendees will improve their understanding of how human-induced impacts on the world’s oceans influence our own health as well as nature’s health.


Agenda: *Updated 23Oct2020*

Conference Chairs:

  • Jason Somarelli, PhD; Assistant Professor and Director of Research, Duke Comparative Oncology Group, Duke University
  • Meagan Dunphy-Daly, PhD; Director of the Rachel Carson Scholars Program and Faculty, Duke University Marine Lab

Morning Session:

  • 9:00-9:10 am: Opening Remarks & Keynote Introduction
  • 9:10-10:10 am: Keynote Address: Michael Tift, PhD; Assistant Professor, Department of Biology & Marine Biology, University of North Carolina – Wilmington: “Blowing smoke? Understanding the benefits of carbon monoxide (CO) in marine mammals”
  • 10:15-10:45 am: Susan White, PhD; Executive Director, North Carolina Sea Grant; Director, Water Resources Research Institute of the UNC System: “Challenges and Opportunities Related to Ocean and Human Health Outcomes”
  • 10:45-11:15 am: William Eward, DVM, MD; Executive Director, Duke Comparative Oncology Group, Department of Orthopaedics, Duke University: “One Cancer, Two Worlds, Many Species: Comparative Oncology and the Search for New Therapies”
  • 11:15-11:55 am: Student Presentations
    • Jessica Gronniger, PhD Candidate, Marine Science and Conservation, Nicholas School of the Environment, Duke University: “Investigating Environmental Conditions Following Major Hurricanes in Eastern North Carolina”
    • Ashley Blawas, PhD Student, Marine Science and Conservation, Nicholas School of the Environment, Duke University: “The effect of cardio-respiratory coupling on hypometabolism in cetaceans and potential implications for human health”
  • 11:55-12:00 pm: Adjourn Morning Session

Afternoon Session:

  • 1:00-1:05 pm: Afternoon Welcome
  • 1:05-1:35 pm: Martin Grossell, PhD; Maytag Professor of Ichthyology, Department of Marine Biology & Ecology, University of Miami: “Impact of crude oil from the Deep Water Horizon oil spill on fish”
  • 1:35-2:05 pm: Dan Rittschof, PhD; Norman L. Christensen Distinguished Professor of Environmental Sciences, Nicholas School of the Environment, Duke University: “Plastics as Tasty Delivery and Removal Platforms: Considering the Consequences”
  • 2:05-2:25 pm: Student Presentation
    • Ella Gunady, Undergraduate student, Biomedical Engineering and Biology, Pratt School of Engineering, Duke University: “Generating a library of mutant PETase enzymes to degrade PET plastic”
  • 2:25-2:45 pm: Anthony L. Dellinger, PhD; President, Kepley BioSystems Inc.: “Beyond Biomedical Sterility Testing: A New Paradigm for Horseshoe Crab and Human Health”
  • 2:45-2:55 pm: Concluding Remarks

Call for Abstracts:

We are inviting students and trainees who participate in research relevant to this topic to submit abstracts to the symposium.  Selected abstracts will be included in the Symposium’s virtual poster session, which will feature a virtual poster gallery and short video presentations.  Click HERE for more details and the abstract submission form! (Abstract Submission Deadline: September 25, 2020)


Registration: *NOW OPEN!*

There is no cost to attend the Symposium, however, registration is required.  To enhance digital security for the event, you will need to submit separate registrations in order to attend both the morning and afternoon sessions.  The Zoom links will be different for the morning and afternoon, so be sure to register for both if you want to attend the full day!

Access to the virtual poster gallery will be provided with any registration; access details will be provided closer to the Symposium date.

NOTE: If you previously registered for the Spring 2020 version of this event, you will need to register again for the Fall symposium; Spring event registrations do NOT carry over.



Durham, NC Virtual

With the health and safety of all our speakers and guests in mind, we have decided to move the Marine Medicine Symposium completely online.


Please direct questions about this Symposium to alexis.sharp@duke.edu.


Event Sponsors:

This Symposium is supported in part by the National Institute Of Environmental Health Sciences of the National Institutes of Health under the Duke University Superfund Research Program (award P42ES010356) and the Duke University Program in Environmental Health (award T32ES021432). Presentation and poster content is solely the responsibility of the speakers and authors, and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.