Lawrence K. Duffy

Duffy, L.KResearch Description & Biography

I received my BS in chemistry from Fordham University in 1969, an MS in organic chemistry from the University of Alaska in 1971 and a PhD in Biochemistry from the University of Alaska in 1977. I served as a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy from 1971-1973. After several years of research at Boston University, the Roche Institute of Molecular Biology, the University of Texas and Harvard Medical School, I returned to the University of Alaska where I served as Associate Dean of the College of Natural Science and Mathematics, UAF’ Graduate Dean and now as Director of UAF’s Resilience and Adaptation Program.

Since the Exxon Valdez oil spill, I have broadened my research activity from protein structure into the area of wildlife and human environmental health. The oil spill focused my attention on the need to develop biomarkers to monitor and assess the health of wildlife populations. These studies demonstrated that chronic exposure could be measured biochemically in mammals not only showing damage to a resource, but also demonstrating recovery of the ecosystem. Biomarkers in human health research led my research group back to wildlife and fish, but this time I focused on mercury exposure to humans from the fish that Alaskans consume. My work on mercury in subsistence food has been used by policy makers on the national level and allows me to involve undergraduate students in research and discuss issues of environmental ethics and justice.

Currently I am working on the question of how the central nervous system protects itself from these contaminants, especially considering the extreme environment of the Arctic. My group has additionally observed a significant variation in melatonin levels in Alaskans and has demonstrated that melatonin can reduce free radical damage which has major implications for the prevention and treatment of stroke. Current research projects also include developing a dog model as a sentinel species for the arctic and a model to determine the effects of mercury on vascular disease and diabetes.

I was the principal investigator for the Alaska Special Neuroscience Research Program or SNRP. This research program, funded by the National Institutes of Health, provided neuroscience research dollars to several UAF investigators and offered one of the best approaches to recruiting underserved students in the area of health care and biomedical research.

I serve as the executive director of the Arctic Division of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) that hosts an annual meeting every fall; and I served on the Fairbanks Community Mental Health Center Board of Directors.  During the summer I teach Chemistry and Biochemistry to rural students in UAF’s Rural Alaska Honors Institute.

I have received the Carol Feist Outstanding Advisor Award, the NIDCD Minority Mentoring Award, the UAF Award for Professional Achievement, the Usibelli Distinguished Research Award, The Sven Ebbesson Award for neuroscience and the UAF Chancellor’s Award for diversity.

Selected Publications

Yankner, B.A., Duffy, L.K. and Kirschner, D.A. (1990) Neurotrophic and neurotoxic effects of β-amyloid: Reversal by tachykinin neuropeptides. Science. 250:279-282.

Beckett, K.J., Aulerich, R.J., Duffy, L.K., Patterson, J.S., and Bursian, S.J. (2002) Effects of dietary exposure to environmentally relevant concentrations of weathered Prudhoe Bay crude oil in ranch-raised mink. Bullet. Environ. Contamin. & Toxicol., 69:593-600.

Bowyer, R.T., Blundell, G.M., Ben-David, M. Jewett, S.C., Dean, T.A., and Duffy, L.K. (2003) Effects of the Exxon Valdez oil spill on river otters: injury and recovery of a sentinel species. Wildlife Monographs, 153:1-53.

Jewett, S.C., Zhang, X., Naidu, A.S., Kelley, J.J., Dasher, D., and Duffy, L.K. (2003) Comparison of mercury and methylmercury in Northern Pike and Arctic Grayling from Western Alaska rivers. Chemosphere, 50:383-392.

Godduhn, A. and Duffy, L.K. (2003) Multi-generational health risks of persistent organic pollution in the Far North. Environ. Sci. & Policy, 6(4):341-353.

Burger, J., Gochfeld, M., Kosson, D., Powers, C.W., Friedlander, B., Eichelberger, J., Barnes, D., Duffy, L., Jewett, S., and Volz, C. (2005) Science, policy and stakeholders: developing a consensus science plan for Amchitka. Environ. Management 35:557-568.

Murray, MS, McRoy, CP, Duffy, LK, Hiron, AC, Trocine, RP, and Trefry, J. (2015) Biogeochemical analysis   of ancient Pacific Cod bone suggests Hg bioaccumulation was linked to paleo sea level rise and climate change. Front. Environ. Sci.3:8. doi: 10.3389/fenvs.2015.00008

Dainowski, BH, Duffy, LK, McIntyre, J and Jones,P. (2015) Hair and bone as predictors of tissular mercury concentrations in the Western Alaska red fox Vulpes vulpes. Sci Total Environ, 518-519: 526-533.

Schnurr, TM, Reynolds, AJ, Komac, AM, Duffy, LK and Dunlap, KL (2015). The effect of acute exercise on GLUT 4 translocation in peripheral blood mononuclear cells of sled dogs. Biochemistry and Biophysics Reports 2 pp 45-49. Doi

Nicholas-Figueroa, L, Barnhardt, R, Duffy, L, Dunlap, K, van Muelken, M and Middlecamp, C. (2015) Delivering Post-secondary STEM education on the North Slope, Alaska: Resilience and Adaptation. International Research in Education 3,no 2 pp80-92.


B.S. 1969, Fordham University
M.S. 1971, University of Alaska
Ph.D. 1977, University of Alaska


Phone: 907-474-7525
Fax: 907-474-5640
Lawrence K. Duffy
Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry
University of Alaska Fairbanks
Fairbanks, AK 99775-6160