Environmental Effects on Cognitive Development (2015-2016)

Environmental conditions can cause changes in gene expression through a process called epigenetics. Such changes in gene expression can increase one’s risk of disease and can even be passed on to one’s offspring. For example, exposure to environmental tobacco smoke, either in utero or in one’s living space, can affect cognitive development, resulting in cognitive dysfunction. 

This team designed and carryed out an intervention that capitalized on social media to educate the public about environmental tobacco smoke and its effects on children’s brain development, using materials developed by the previous team members. This team designed a social media approach to promote public health and education, and collected and analyzed the resulting data. A thousand people took the team's survey about smoking and ADHH via Amazon Turk. Team members hosted an Instagram contest and selected seven winners.


Summer 2015 – Spring 2016

Team Outcomes

Help Babies Avoid Smoke (website)

Help Babies Avoid Smoke (Facebook page)

Smoking and ADHD Survey

Instragram contest (see the seven winners)

Project team demo at DIBS Discovery Day, Brain Awareness Week at Duke (April 3, 2016)

“Ceci n’est pas une pipe”: A Comparison of French and U.S. Health Research on the Neurodevelopmental and Epigenetic Effects of Tobacco Exposure on Vulnerable Populations (Laurie Hwang, honors thesis for graduation with distinction in Global Health)

This Team in the News

From Lab to Museum, Students Share Their Brain Research

See earlier related team, Environmental Effects on Cognitive Development (2014-2015).

Team Leaders

  • Rochelle Bloom, School of Medicine-Pharmacology and Cancer Biology

/undergraduate Team Members

  • Carly Bandt, Public Policy Studies (AB)
  • Brittany Friese, Environmental Sciences (BS)
  • Rha Hyun (Laurie) Hwang, French Studies (AB), Global Health (AB2)
  • Christine Nunez, Psychology (AB)

/yfaculty/staff Team Members

  • Paul Bloom, Fuqua School of Business
  • Rochelle Bloom, School of Medicine-Pharmacology and Cancer Biology
  • Elizabeth Godin, School of Medicine-Pharmacology and Cancer Biology