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Duke University

Superfund Research Program

Developmental Toxicants: Mechanisms, Consequences, and Remediation

Center Director: Richard T. Di Giulio
Grant Number: P42ES010356
Funding Period: 2000-2027
View this project in the NIH Research Portfolio Online Reporting Tools (RePORT)

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Summary (2011-2017)

The overarching goal of this Superfund Research Center is a broad understanding of chemical impacts on developing organisms and approaches for reducing these impacts. Center research concentrates on a mechanistic approach: mechanisms underlying developmental perturbations, mechanisms underlying ameliorations of and adaptations to these effects, and mechanisms underlying engineered solutions for the ultimate removal of these chemicals from the environment. A major cross-cutting theme in this Center is that of potential biological "costs" of early life exposures to humans and ecosystems, and of remediation strategies. The primary goals of this Center are:

  1. To elucidate mechanisms of developmental toxicity of selected Superfund chemicals and chemical mixtures.
  2. To further develop sensitive and efficient assays for developmental toxicants.
  3. To determine later-life consequences of early life exposures to developmental toxicants.
  4. To develop effective strategies for remediating systems contaminated by developmental toxicants that combine microbial- and nanomaterials-based strategies.
  5. To effectively deliver the Center's research results to critical members of the scientific, governmental, business and lay communities.
  6. To enhance interdisciplinary research, and undergraduate, graduate and post-graduate training in the biomedical and environmental sciences.

The Center's objectives are being achieved through the integrated activities of two biomedical and two non-biomedical research projects, two research support cores, and an Administrative, Research Translation, and Training Core. Both biomedical projects focus on mechanisms and later life consequences of developmental neurotoxicity, with Dr. Slotkin employing the rat model and neural cell lines, and Dr. Linney the zebrafish model. Drs. Di Giulio, Hinton, and Meyer are exploring mechanisms of adaptation to developmental toxicity and subsequent consequences for a population of killifish inhabiting a PAH-contaminated estuary. Drs. Wiesner, Gunsch, and Hsu-Kim are examining fundamental interactions between nanomaterial- and microbial-based remediation strategies for Center chemicals (pesticides, PAHs, flame retardants), and the efficacy and safety of such strategies. All four projects utilize the services of the Center's Neural and Behavioral Assessment Core, headed by Drs. Levin and Slotkin, and Analytical Chemistry Core, headed by Drs. Stapleton and Wiesner. The Research Translation Core is designed to effectively serve as a bi-directional bridge between the Center and relevant stakeholder groups. The Training Core provides formal approaches for cross-fertilization among the biomedical and non-biomedical sciences with the goal of maximizing the interdisciplinary training of undergraduates, graduate students and research associates associated with the Center.


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