Akinyemiju Lung Cancer/ Radon Project Selected for Duke Climate Commitment Funding

Lung scans

The initial gift for the Duke Climate Commitment has provided funding for Climate and Health Data Expeditions, where interdisciplinary teams pursue research on data-driven topics examining climate impacts and human health. 

“Transdisciplinary research is not easy, and researchers from different scientific domains take very different approaches to problem solving and quite often use very different technical language,” says Shila Nordone, Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment director of research development.

Tomi Akinyemiju
Tomi Akinyemiju, PhD, PI for “Climate Change, Radon Exposure and Lung Cancer.”

That’s why each climate research team was required to include at least one researcher from either the School of Medicine or School of Nursing, what Nordone calls “an easy on-ramp” to cross-discipline research.

“Climate change is one of the biggest threats to the public’s health here and around the world and demands our immediate and utmost attention,” says Dr. Eugene Washington, Duke University’s chancellor for health affairs. “We are proud and grateful for how our Duke colleagues have met the moment with ambitious and interdisciplinary research ideas that help us understand the problem, plan meaningful interventions, and have a real impact to address climate change, health, and equity.”

Nine teams submitted proposals and received seed funding in spring 2022 to conduct preliminary research.

Of the nine teams, five have been selected to receive additional funding – up to $200,000 – for the next two years.

Here are those projects:

  • “Climate Change, Radon Exposure and Lung Cancer,” Principal Investigator: Tomi Akinyemiju, Duke School of Medicine and Duke Cancer Institute
  • "A Consortium to Effectively Respond to Climate Attributable Risks: Malaria Elimination and Control (ACERCAR-ME)," Principal Investigator: William Pan, Nicholas School of the Environment and Duke Global Health Institute
  • "An Interdisciplinary, Multi-Organizational Partnership to Test the Mechanisms Linking Climate Change with Human Health and to Alleviate Their Adverse Health Impacts in the Kafue Ecosystem, Zambia," Principal Investigator: John Poulsen, Nicholas School of the Environment
  • “Disease Burden + Climate-Related Disasters,” Principal Investigator: Brian McAdoo, Nicholas School of the Environment
  • "WiSER - Wildfire Smoke Exposure Response," Principal Investigator: Vijay Krishnamoorthy, Duke School of Medicine - Anesthesiology

CONTINUE READING on DUKE TODAY "Duke Climate Commitment Funding Launches Climate and Health Projects"


Blueprint for a Bold Duke University Future: Duke’s strategic framework sets a path for the second century (Duke Today)


Tomi Akinyemiju, associate professor in Population Health Sciences, secured support for her project, “Climate Change, Radon Exposure and Lung Cancer.”

The grant allows Akinyemiju’s team to test for radon in North Carolina homes and gather data about household behaviors and the prevalence of lung cancer, which kills more Americans each year than any type of cancer and can be caused by radon exposure. Combined with climate data, the information will feed a mathematical model that could predict the role climate-associated migration plays in radon-related lung cancer risk, giving policy makers valuable information for addressing the threat.

“Duke has taken on this commitment and is devoting resources to tackle this problem,” Akinyemiju said. “Climate change is the existential challenge of our lifetime and will exacerbate existing inequalities. This is not trivial, and it requires a robust sustained commitment to make sure this work continues.”

Related News