NICHES Investigators and Research Staff


Susan K. Murphy, PhD

Program Leader
Leader, Administrative Core
Project Leader, NiCHES Project 3  Dr. Murphy is a molecular biologist who studies epigenetics during early life and in disease. Her research motivation stems from the desire to improve understanding of how our environment shapes ours and our children's health.  See more about her research at:  PubMed  ResearchGate

Scott Kollins, PhD

NICHES Children's Health Specialist
Co-Leader, Administrative Core
Project Leader, Project 1  Dr. Kollins is a clinical psychologist and leader of the Duke ADHD Program.  His research involves study of the neuropsychopharmacology of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in children, adolescents and adults. His work covers a wide range of areas, including molecular genetics, neuroimaging, and clinical trials. He has been particularly interested in understanding the comorbidity between ADHD and smoking/nicotine dependence. PubMed  ResearchGate

Rochelle Schwartz-Bloom, PhD

Leader, Community Outreach and Translation Core 
Dr. Schwartz-Bloom is a professor of pharmacology and biological psychiatry.  She has devoted her career to studying how drugs affect the brain, including exposure to nicotine.  More recently, she is the Director of the Duke Center for Science Education, an area to which she has devoted much research.  Dr. Schwartz-Bloom has developed several pharmacology-based curricula for teaching high school science and health.  For examples of her programs and research go to:  PubMed

Kathryn Pollak, PhD

Co-Investigator, Community Outreach and Translation Core  Dr. Pollak is a social psychologist with 15 years experience in developing behavioral interventions, mostly focusing on smoking. She has expertise in working with local community health and women’s centers—especially with physicians, and their patients and pregnant patients who smoke. She also has experience in communication strategies for changing behaviors with respect to tobacco smoking. PubMed  ResearchGate

Paul Bloom, PhD

Co-Investigator, Community Outreach and Translation Core  Dr. Bloom's career has been devoted to carrying out research and teaching about how to use marketing and other management tools to mitigate social problems. He has published on how to use social marketing approaches to address societal problems such as youth tobacco use, drinking and driving, obesity, and overuse of credit. PubMed  ResearchGate

Bernard Fuemmeler, PhD, Virginia Commonwealth University

Co-PI, Project 1  Dr. Fuemmeler's program of research takes a lifespan epidemiologic approach toward understanding the determinants contributing to child and adolescent health behaviors, and ultimately to adult chronic disease, as well as seeks to develop innovative intervention strategies to promote health in children, adolescents and their families.   PubMed  ResearchGate

Cathrine Hoyo, PhD, North Carolina State University

Co-Investigator, Project 1  Dr. Hoyo is an epidemiologist with a focus on environmental epigenetics in relation to common chronic diseases. She directs a research program aimed at examining the extent to which epigenetic mechanisms could explain some of the racial and ethnic differences in risk and mortality of common chronic diseases and conditions including obesity and cancer.  PubMed  ResearchGate

Julia Schechter, PhD 

Faculty Development Investigator, NICHES, Project 1 
Dr. Schechter earned her PhD in Clinical Psychology from Emory University and completed her pre-doctoral internship at Duke University Medical Center. Her research has focused on the role of biological and psychosocial risk factors on the development of childhood disorders. Specifically, she is interested in the interplay between maternal health behaviors and psychological distress during pregnancy on developmental, cognitive, and behavioral outcomes during early childhood. Pubmed

Ed Levin, PhD

Project Leader, Project 2  Dr. Levin investigates developmental aspects of drug and toxicant response with studies of the persisting behavioral impairments after in utero and postnatal pesticide and heavy metal exposure as well as studies of the vulnerability of adolescents to the onset of drug self-administration. PubMed  ResearchGate

Theodore Slotkin, PhD

Co-Investigator, Project 2  Dr. Slotkin's research is aimed toward understanding the cellular and molecular mechanisms that control neuronal development in the fetus, newborn and adolescent, especially the adverse effects of drugs of abuse and environmental contaminants. PubMed  

Fred Seidler, PhD

Co-Investigator, Project 2

Lisa Satterwhite, PhD

Co-Investigator, Project 2  Dr. Satterwhite is a molecular geneticist and cell biologist committed to understanding the mechanisms of increased risk for chronic diseases from environmental exposures. She focuses on neurodegenerative diseases and cancer in at-risk populations with clear health disparity. She is developing simple blood tests based on genomic signatures to predict increased risk from early life exposures for Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and inflammatory breast cancer. PubMed  ResearchGate

Joseph Lucas, PhD

Co-Investigator, Project 3  Dr. Lucas is a Research Assistant Professor and Associate Director of Health System Operations in the Information Initiative at Duke.  He has 8 years of experience directing analytics projects at the intersection of biology/medicine and “big data”.  Before joining the Information Initiative at Duke, Dr. Lucas spent 6 years as a professor in the Institute for Genome Sciences and Policy at Duke University.  While there he built and managed a 7 member analytics team capable of handling any type of data or question that physician and biologist collaborators might generate.  He subsequently spent one year as a Senior Director in the Innovations group at Quintiles where he developed predictive models based on electronic health records.

Rashmi Joglekar, BS

Graduate Student, Project 3 Rashmi is a Ph.D. student in the Murphy Laboratory pursuing her Ph.D. in environmental toxicology. She received her Bachelor’s in Biotechnology from Indiana University, and joined Duke’s Integrated Toxicology and Environmental Health Program (ITEHP) shortly after in 2014. Rashmi is particularly interested in understanding the epigenetic mechanisms by which developmental cigarette smoke exposure perturbs brain sexualization in rodents.


Jamie Wylie, MA

Operations Coordinator, Administrative Core Jamie earned her Masters in Exercise Physiology from the University of North Carolina, and spent the early part of her career in recreation management. She joined the NiCHES team in 2016 to support the planning, coordination, integration, and execution of all projects involved in the program. 



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