The Duke SRC includes five research projects and six support cores (2017 – 2022). In addition to the objectives of each project and core, an overarching goal of the Duke SRC is to foster 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 the public and to decision makers, and on engaging impacted communities.

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. Our theme is “Developmental Exposures: Mechanisms, Consequences, and Remediation.”

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 of time when early life exposures can happen:

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


Research Projects (2017 – 2022)


Project 1: Cholinergic and Monoaminergic Mechanisms of Persistent Neurobehavioral Toxicity

Principal Investigator: Edward Levin


Project 2: Altering the Balance of Adipogenic and Osteogenic Regulatory Pathways from Early Life Exposure to HPCs and AOPEs

Principal Investigator: Heather Stapleton


Project 3: Persistent Mitochondrial and Epigenetic Effects of Toxicant Exposure 

Principal Investigator: Joel Meyer


Project 4: Mechanisms and Consequences of Evolved Adaptation to Environmental Pollution 

Principal Investigator: Richard Di Giulio


Project 5: Engineering the Physico-Chemical Environment to Enhance Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbon (PAH) Bioremediation

Principal Investigator: Claudia Gunsch