Our Work

Environmental Epidemiology in Latin America: Research and Policy Development to Reduce Chemical Exposures




2016-07-01 16:45:55 - 2017-12-15 16:45:55

Project Objectives

In September 2015, our team was approached by the Peruvian Government to assist in drafting their strategic plan to reduce heavy metal exposure. As part of this plan, we will help design a rapid assessment of heavy metal exposure in select regions of Peru, consisting of formative interviews, community market surveys, and assessment of potential routes of exposure and obtaining samples from humans and potential environmental sources of exposure. The primary objective for this Bass proposal will be to integrate a team of Duke students into the evaluation process so that they can gain experience in research design, translational research and policy development.

This project will be conducted in Peru and Ecuador. In Peru, we will visit one of four regional clusters to conduct fieldwork: Puno-Arequipa-Apurimac; Cusco-Madre de Dios; Pasco-Junin-Huancavelica; and Ancash-La Libertad-Cajamarca. In Ecuador, we will visit either the Zamora-Chinchipe or the Napo/Sucumbíos provincial regions. The contrast between Ecuador and Peru will offer unique comparisons due to culture, politics, environmental justice and genetic predisposition that we can potentially pursue in future Bass teams.

Project Opportunities

We expect to recruit at least one doctoral student, one masters student and three two undergraduate students (this project can accommodate 6 students, but the 6th student will be responsible for funding their own travel). All students should have at least an intermediate level of Spanish; although we will make exceptions for students with unique skills that are absent from the team as a whole. Specific activities and tasks will include: development and execution of formative interviews with community leaders, mothers, miners, and general residents of mining communities; collection of biomarkers for heavy metal and chemical exposure; development of community (infrastructure) surveys; data base development and management; data analysis; and report summaries.

We would like to include students trained or majoring in in a broad range of disciplines, including environmental health (with toxicology), international or environmental policy, sociology, economics, statistics, or global health. Students graduating in or prior to December 2017 are not eligible.

Project Application Process

All interested students must complete the Bass Central Application process, located here: https://bassconnections.duke.edu/content/common-application. When you have completed that process, please send an email to Lysa.mackeen@duke.edu with the title of the project and "application completed" in the subject line.

Questions can be sent to any faculty leader or the project coordinator.

Project Selection Criteria


Spanish is required.

Project Application Deadline


Project Status


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