David E Hinton


Nicholas Distinguished Professor of Environmental Quality

The Hinton laboratory focuses on mechanistic toxicity in all life stages of small, aquarium model fish and in selected species with particular environmental relevance (freshwater and marine). With the latter, investigations focus on stressor responses and include follow up studies after oil spills. Studies with the laboratory model fish take advantage of the compressed life cycle to improve understanding of organellar, cellular and tissues responses that arise after exposure and follow either a temporal and/or a concentration gradient. At the end of these serial examinations, we have pioneered the use of high resolution light and fluorescent microscopy and electron microscopy in these small fish species to better understand resultant phenotypes and to correlate structural alteration with molecular biological studies. In this way we are anchoring phenotypes with gene expression. In individual fish where specific genes have been mutated (Collaboration with Dr. Keith Cheng, Hershey Medical Center, Hershey, PA) or in individuals exposed to organic substances of known or expected toxicity, structural analysis at various levels of biological organization enables integration across all levels of biological organization enabling whole body phenomics. Special projects include The Duke Superfund Research Center, 2P42-ESO10356-10A2, supported by NIH/NIEHS. Studies investigate responses of fish to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and include early life stages and multigenerational effects. Contaminated and reference sites are included in these investigations of feral fish. Also, we receive funding as part of theme 2 of the Center for Environmental Implications of Nano Technology (CEINT). Our studies seek to determine whether there are specific toxic consequences upon exposure to nano silver (Ag NPs) versus exposure to conventional silver. We hosted Na Zheng (Angie), Visiting Investigator, Associate Professor, Northeast Institute of Geography and Agricultural Ecology, Chinese Academy of Sciences. She was the recipient of a K.C. Wong award supporting her role as visiting investigator. Together, we investigated metals mixtures and embryo toxicity. We collaborate with Stella Marinakos, Pratt School and CEINT on the synthesis and refinement of nanoselenium. This complements work done over the past year with seleno-methionine and sodium selenite in parental and embryo exposures. We continue to investigate ways to assess whole body responses of aquarium model fish and to link phenotype to genotype. Collaboration with the Stapleton laboratory has investigated alterations in embryo and larval zebrafish exposed to flame retardant compounds and selected metabolites. Here our morphologic investigations have helped to differentiate between delayed development and toxicity in the developing eye.

Appointments and Affiliations

  • Nicholas Distinguished Professor of Environmental Quality
  • Professor in the Nicholas School of the Environment

Contact Information


  • Ph.D. University of Mississippi, 1969
  • M.S. University of Mississippi, 1967
  • B.S. Mississippi College, 1965

Courses Taught

  • BIOLOGY 293: Research Independent Study
  • BIOLOGY 493: Research Independent Study
  • BIOLOGY 493A: Research Independent Study
  • ENVIRON 89S: First-Year Seminar
  • ENVIRON 393: Research Independent Study
  • ENVIRON 394: Research Independent Study
  • ENVIRON 495: Senior Capstone Course
  • ENVIRON 549: California Water Crises: A Case Study Approach
  • ENVIRON 593: Independent Studies and Projects
  • ENVIRON 899: Master's Project
  • ENVIRON 974: DEL: Seeing the Big Picture: Lessons from Watershed Management in California
  • ENVIRON 997: Duke Environmental Leadership: Independent Studies and Projects
  • ENVIRON 999: Duke Environmental Leadership: Master's Project

In the News

Representative Publications

  • Wang, H; Chen, H; Chernick, M; Li, D; Ying, G-G; Yang, J; Zheng, N; Xie, L; Hinton, DE; Dong, W, Selenomethionine exposure affects chondrogenic differentiation and bone formation in Japanese medaka (Oryzias latipes)., Journal of Hazardous Materials, vol 387 (2020) [10.1016/j.jhazmat.2019.121720] [abs].
  • Zhu, M; Chernick, M; Rittschof, D; Hinton, DE, Chronic dietary exposure to polystyrene microplastics in maturing Japanese medaka (Oryzias latipes)., Aquatic Toxicology (Amsterdam, Netherlands), vol 220 (2020) [10.1016/j.aquatox.2019.105396] [abs].
  • Chen, X; Fang, M; Chernick, M; Wang, F; Yang, J; Yu, Y; Zheng, N; Teraoka, H; Nanba, S; Hiraga, T; Hinton, DE; Dong, W, The case for thyroid disruption in early life stage exposures to thiram in zebrafish (Danio rerio)., General and Comparative Endocrinology, vol 271 (2019), pp. 73-81 [10.1016/j.ygcen.2018.11.003] [abs].
  • Hu, L; Chernick, M; Hinton, DE; Shi, H, Microplastics in Small Waterbodies and Tadpoles from Yangtze River Delta, China., Environmental Science & Technology, vol 52 no. 15 (2018), pp. 8885-8893 [10.1021/acs.est.8b02279] [abs].
  • Shi, M; Zhang, C; Xia, IF; Cheung, ST; Wong, KS; Wong, K-H; Au, DWT; Hinton, DE; Kwok, KWH, Maternal dietary exposure to selenium nanoparticle led to malformation in offspring., Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety, vol 156 (2018), pp. 34-40 [10.1016/j.ecoenv.2018.02.073] [abs].