Project 2: Thyroid Metabolism and Development

Project 2 – Thyroid Metabolism Disruption in Toxicant-Induced Developmental Impairment

What do we do?

The thyroid gland is an extremely important part of the endocrine system.  Not only does the thyroid gland control metabolism, but it also controls your body’s response to hormones and releases hormones of its own.  This project, one of our new projects for this funding cycle, is exploring how halogenated organic compounds (those containing bromide, chloride, or fluoride), such as flame retardants, impact thyroid hormones.  In addition to halogenated organic compounds, we are also looking at what effect the contaminants studied by Projects 1, 3, and 4 (organophosphates, PAHs, and nanoparticles) have on thyroid hormones and the development of nerve cells.


How will we do it?

To do this we are using zebrafish as a model for how these compounds may affect human health.  Why zebrafish?  We use zebrafish as models for humans because they grow and develop very quickly and we know a lot about their DNA.  By raising and keeping zebrafish in our own tanks, we are able to control exposures to contaminants of interest.


In the news

You may know that one of the research projects here at Duke deals with flame retardants, but do you know what they’ve been finding? The cover story for the Fall 2012 issue of Dukenvironment focuses on Dr. Heather Stapleton and her research on flame retardants. Read about the work her lab is doing to better understand the dangers of flame retardants in baby products, how flame retardants are (not) regulated, and how flame retardants may affect our health in Duke Environment here (or here for the pdf version).

On July 24th, 2012, Dr. Heather Stapleton provided expert testimony before the U.S. Senate Committee on the Environment and Public Works. Dr. Stapleton was part of a larger panel including Hannah Pingree, former Speaker of the Maine House of Representatives; Marshall Moore,  Great Lakes Solutions, a Chemtura Business; William Rawson, Latham & Watkins LLP; and Tony Stefani, San Francisco Firefighters Cancer Prevention Foundation.

More information on the panel and an archived webcast can be found by clicking here. You can also read Dr. Stapleton’s oral and written testimony.


Who are we?

Dr. Heather Stapleton
Dr. Lee Ferguson (Ferguson Lab)
Dr. Tara Raftery-Catron, Postdoctoral Research Associate
Dr. Erin Kollitz, Postdoctoral Research Associate