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Leadership

Sallie Permar, MD, PhD
Director
Professor of Pediatrics (Infectious Diseases)
Professor in Immunology
Professor in Molecular Genetics and Microbiology
Affiliate, Duke Global Health Institute
Member, Duke Human Vaccine Institute

Dr. Permar's work focuses on the development of vaccines to prevent vertical transmission of neonatal viral pathogens. She has utilized the nonhuman primate model of HIV/AIDS to characterize the virus-specific immune responses and virus evolution in breast milk and develop a maternal vaccine regimen for protection against breast milk transmission of HIV. In addition, Dr. Permar's lab has advanced the understanding of HIV-specific immune responses and virus evolution in vertically-transmitting and nontransmitting HIV-infected women, defining maternal immune responses that may protect against neonatal transmission of HIV. Importantly, Dr. Permar has established a nonhuman primate model of congenital CMV infection adn is using this model to establish the maternal immune responses that are necessary for protection against placental virus transmission. Finally, Dr. Permar is studying the impact and prevention of postnatal CMV transmission in preterm infants.
 

Kyle Walsh, PhD
Genes and Biology Research Leader
Associate Professor of Neurosurgery
Member, Duke Cancer Institute

Dr. Walsh’s research program focuses on genetic and epigenetic factors contributing to cancer predisposition in children and adults, with a special interest in brain tumors. This research is informed by both epidemiology and anthropological genetics, with computational work stressing statistical methodologies for “gene hunting” (e.g. GWAS, fine-mapping, admixture mapping, whole-genome sequencing). The laboratory engages in functional genomics research, investigating the biological impact of genetic variants linked to cancer risk, with a particular focus on regulation of telomere maintenance in pre-malignant cells.
 

Heather Stapleton, PhD
Physical Environment Research Leader
Dan and Bunny Gabel Associate Professor of Environmental Ethics and Sustainable Environmental Management
Nicholas School of the Environment
Environmental Science & Policy Division
Director, Duke Superfund Center

Dr. Stapleton's research focuses on understanding the fate and transformation of organic contaminants in aquatic systems and in indoor environments. Her main focus has been on the bioaccumulation and biotransformation of brominated flame retardants, and specifically polybrominated diphenyl ethers,(PBDEs). Her current research projects explore the routes of human exposure to flame retardant chemicals and examine the way these compounds are photodegraded and metabolized using mass spectrometry to identify breakdown products/metabolites. She uses both in vivo techniques with fish, and in vitro techniques with cell cultures to examine metabolism of this varied class of chemicals. Also of interest to Dr. Stapleton is the study of the fate of PBDEs in the environment which may lead to bioaccumulation in aquatic systems and examining their bioavailability under different environmental conditions.
 

Charlene Wong, MD, MSPH
Health and Behavior Needs Research Leader
Assistant Professor of Pediatrics (Primary Care)
Member, Margolis Center for Health Policy
Member, Duke Clinical Research Institute

Dr. Wong specializes in adolescent and young adult medicine. She serves as both a primary care physician to young people ages 12-26, while also providing specialized care to this population. She specializes in addressing young people's reproductive health concerns (for example, menstrual or contraceptive issues), chronic illnesses, behavioral challenges, and developmental difficulties. Her focus is on providing high quality medical care to youth through respect for each individual, support of their physical and emotional growth, and education to empower them to be thriving, independent adults. She also spends a substantial amount of time being an advocate for young people through health policy and research. Dr. Wong's research focuses on improving the consumer experience with accessing health and health care, exploring innovative strategies that leverage behavioral economics and technology to improve youth well-being, and studying the impact of health policy on young people.
 

Beth Gifford, PhD
Social and Economic Factors Research Leader
Assistant Research Professor
Sanford School of Public Policy
Director of Data Initiatives, Center for Child and Family Policy

Dr. Gifford is an assistant research professor in the Sanford School of Public Policy and director of data initiatives for the Center for Child and Family Policy. These data initiatives include the Durham Children’s Data Center and the North Carolina Education Research Data Center. She is also a co-PI on two studies that examine the intergenerational effects of parental involvement in the criminal justice system, funded by the National Institute of Drug Abuse and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Dr. Gifford's primary research interests involve evaluating programs and policies that are designed to improve outcomes for vulnerable children. These populations include children who live in low-income families, are in the juvenile justice system or in foster care, require special education or have emotional and or behavioral problems.

 

Ben Goldstein, PhD
Data Science & Analytics Leader
Assistant Professor of Biostatistics & Bioinformatics
Member, Duke Clinical Research Institute

Dr. Goldstein is a collaborative biostatistician with interest in the meaningful use of electronic health records (EHR) for diagnostics. He collaborates with researchers both locally at Duke as well as nationally. He is also interested in risk prediction methods, machine learning, characterization of health service encounters and health quality improvement research.

 

 

Jillian Hurst, PhD
Program Director

Jillian became the CHDI program manager in June of 2017. She is responsible for the development and coordination of research projects and also manages the Duke Pediatric Research Scholars program.  Jillian received her PhD in pharmaceutical and biomedical sciences from the University of Georgia for her work on the regulation of lysophospholipid signaling pathways in ovarian cancer and neural development in the laboratory of Shelley Hooks. She then moved to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to work on ubiquitin-mediated regulation of MAP kinase cascades in Henrik Dohlman’s lab. She was a staff science editor at the Journal of Clinical Investigation and JCI Insight
from 2012-2017.