About Our Program

The Superfund Research Center at Duke University focuses on early, low-dose exposures to environmental contaminants and their developmental impacts, changes usually only evident later in life. Research at the Center has shifted during the 20 years of funding, as knowledge of Superfund chemicals and remediation techniques have improved. Though the basic research questions have changed, the focus on developmental impacts of environmental toxicants has been a constant.

The Duke Superfund Research Center is supported through the NIEHS P42 Multiproject Center Grant program, grant number P42ES010356, and is currently supported through June, 2027. The NIEHS P42 grants generally provide support for 5 years and consist of several research projects and support cores working collaboratively to shed light on the overall focus of the Center.

Find out more about:

Who we are
Our Funding/Support
Partnering Organizations

Research Projects

Our Center is made up of five distinct, but connected research projects. There are three biomedical research projects:

Project 1: Prenatal Exposure & Neurodevelopment (Principal Investigator: Heather Stapleton)
Project 2: Mechanisms of Neurobehavioral Toxicity (Principal Investigator: Edward Levin)
Project 3: Mitochondrial & Cellular Neurotoxicity Mechanisms (Principal Investigator: Joel Meyer)

And two applied environmental and engineering projects:

Project 4: Ecological Impacts, Adaptation, & Fitness Costs (Principal Investigator: Nishad Jayasundara)
Project 5: Precision Bioremediation at PAH-contaminated Superfund Sites (Principal Investigator: Claudia Gunsch)

Support Cores

The Center has five support cores that aid the research in different ways:

Administrative & Research Translation Core (Principal Investigator: Heather Stapleton)
Analytical Chemistry Core (Principal Investigator: Lee Ferguson)
Community Engagement Core (Principal Investigator: Elizabeth Shapiro-Garza)
Data Management & Analysis Core (Principal Investigator: Amy Herring and Rebecca Boyle)
Research Experience & Training Coordination Core (Principal Investigator: Joel Meyer)

History of Duke Superfund Research Center

There have been four previous iterations of the Center funded by NIEHS:

2017 – 2022: Developmental Exposures: Mechanisms, Outcomes and Remediation

  1. Cholinergic and Monoaminergic Mechanisms of Persistent Neurobehavioral Toxicity
  2. Altering the Balance of Adipogenic and Osteogenic Regulatory Pathways from Early Life Exposure to HPCs and AOPEs
  3. Persistent Mitochondrial and Epigenetic Effects of Early Life Toxicant Exposure
  4. Mechanisms and Consequences of Evolved Adaptation to Environmental Pollution
  5. Engineering the Physico-Chemical Environment to Enhance the Bioremediation of Developmental Toxicants in Sediment Fungal-Bacterial Biofilms

2011 – 2017: Developmental Toxicants: Mechanisms, Consequences, and Remediation

  1. Developmental Neurotoxicants: Sensitization, Consequences, and Mechanisms
  2. Thyroid Metabolism Disruption in Toxicant-Induced Developmental Impairment
  3. Developmental PAH Exposures in Fish: Mechanisms of Toxicity, Adaptation, and Later Life Consequences
  4. Metal-based Nanoparticles for Groundwater and Surface Water Remediation: Limitations, Concerns, Synergies, and Antagonistic Effects in Bioremediation

2006 – 2011: Superfund Chemicals’ Impact on Reproduction and Development

  1. Developmental Neurotoxicity of Superfund Pesticides: Biomarkers and Mechanisms
  2. Neurobehavioral Mechanisms of Cognitive and Affective Impairment from Fetal Exposure to Superfund Chemicals
  3. Zebrafish as a Detector and Discriminator of Organophosphate Exposure
  4. Mechanisms of Environmental Stress-Induced Developmental Abnormalities
  5. Developmental Effects of Superfund Hydrocarbon Mixtures in Fundulus heteroclitus
  6. Microbial and Photolytic Transformations of Superfund Chemical

2000 – 2005: Superfund Chemicals’ Impact on Reproduction and Development

  1. Developmental Neurotoxicity of Chlorpyrifos: Mechanism and Consequences
  2. Fate, Transport, and Exposure Risk of Superfund Chemicals
  3. Markers for Chemical Mixtures in Fundulus Heteroclitus
  4. Mechanism of Stress-Induced Developmental Abnormalities
  5. Transgenic Fish as Biosensors for Superfund Chemicals