Interim Director, Institute for the Environment
Andrews Distinguished Professor of Pediatrics; Director, Center for Environmental Medicine, Asthma and Lung Biology
(919) 966-6026


David B. Peden, MD, MS, an expert on the human health effects of air pollution, is the interim director of the UNC Institute for the Environment.

Peden oversees the Institute’s activities in interdisciplinary research, outreach, and engagement that address pressing environmental issues facing communities in North Carolina and throughout the globe.

Peden holds the Harry S. Andrews Distinguished Professor of Pediatrics in the School of Medicine and currently serves as director of the UNC Center for Environmental Medicine, Asthma and Lung Biology (CEMALB) and the senior associate dean for Translational Research in the School of Medicine, in addition to many other senior administrative positions. He also is chief of the Division of Allergy, Immunology and Rheumatology in the Department of Pediatrics in the School of Medicine.

Peden is the principal investigator of a T32 training grant in toxicology from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. This training program offers a wide range of opportunities for trainees to perform high quality research on environmentally relevant problems.

Outside of UNC, Peden is the current president of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI), where he is focused on environmental and climate impacts on allergic and immunologic disease.

Peden’s research in general is largely rooted in the human inflammatory response to external threats and injury. Over his career, Peden has authored 160 research articles and book chapters and is associate editor of The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology and editor-in-chief of Current Allergy and Asthma Reports.

Peden has a long history with IE and has held tertiary roles with it since 1992 when he started at UNC. Peden assisted with an IE-led multidisciplinary report commissioned in 2009 by the North Carolina senate on the effects of climate change on the eastern part of the state. He also has served on IE’s faculty advisory committee since 2005. Over the years, he developed relationships with IE’s air quality modeling, water and outreach teams in varying capacities.

Peden was recruited to UNC to conduct human asthma studies in the context of ozone exposure in a unit that later became the CEMALB.Over time, Peden’s research extended ozone to include how pollutants in general affect inflammatory responses.

The basis of this research is used by the EPA to determine ozone standards. Peden’s lab was able to show that people with asthma have a specifically increased risk of adverse effects from pollutants, but also that healthy individuals have both a lung function effect and inflammatory response even at low levels of ozone.

This expertise afforded Peden the opportunity to provide expert testimony on behalf of the State of North Carolina in various environmental health cases and provide input for North Carolina’s Clean Smokestacks Act in 2002.

In 2008, Peden was appointed to the North Carolina Environmental Management Commission and served for six years.

Peden attributes his success as a researcher to being able to collaborate across disciplines. He has been a collaborator on many large grants that span departments and universities around the country. He honed this skill-set as a collaborator and administrator with the North Carolina Translational & Clinical Sciences (NC TraCS) Institute, which he has been involved with in various capacities since its inception. Peden participates on research teams and oversees team sciences services.

He brings that same collaborative spirit as the leader of IE and sees his role as an opportunity to synergize data science, environmental science and precision medicine in a transformative way.

Peden also is a Judo enthusiast and has been the faculty advisor to the Carolina Judo Club since 1994.


Fellowship, Allergy & Immunology Allergic Diseases Section, Laboratory of Clinical Investigation, National Institute of Allergy & Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, 1984-87

Internship and Residency in Pediatrics, Department of Pediatrics, West Virginia University Medical Center, Morgantown, WV, 1984

M.D., West Virginia University, 1984

M.S., Pharmacology and Toxicology, West Virginia University, 1984

B.A., (cum laude) Citation in the Departmental Honors Program, Department of Biology, West Virginia University, 1980

Selected Publications

Burbank AJ, Duran CG, Pan Y, Burns P, Jones S, Jiang Q, Yang C, Jenkins S, Wells H, Alexis N, Kesimer M, Bennett WD, Zhou H, Peden DB*, Hernandez ML* (*= co-senior authors). Gamma tocopherol reduces sputum eosinophilia and endotoxin-induced sputum neutrophilia in volunteers with asthma. In Press, Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 6/2017

Hernandez ML, Mills K, Almond M, Todoric K, Aleman MM, Zhang H, Zhou H, Peden DB. Interleukin-1 receptor antagonist reduces endotoxin-induced airway inflammation in healthy volunteers. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2015 Feb;135(2):379-85. doi: 10.1016/j.jaci.2014.07.039.

Alexis NE, Huang T, Rappold A, Kehrl H, Devlin R, Peden DB. Asthmatics Demonstrate Airway inflammation Following Exposure to concentrated ambient particulate matter, Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2014 Jul 15;190(2):235-7. doi: 10.1164/rccm.201401-0126LE

Alexis NE, Lay JC, Zhou H, Kim CS, Hernandez ML, Kehrl H, Hazucha MJ, Devlin RB, Diaz-Sanchez D, Zou B, Zhou H, Peden DB. The Glutathione-S-Transferase null genotype and increased neutrophil response to low level ozone (0.06 ppm). J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2013 Feb;131(2):610-2. doi: 10.1016/j.jaci.2012.07.005.

Hernandez, ML, Lay JC; Harris B, Esther CR, Brickey J, Bromberg PA, Diaz-Sanchez D, Devlin RB, Kleeberger SR, Alexis NE, Peden DB. Atopic Asthmatics but not atopics without asthma have enhanced inflammatory response to ozone. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2010 Sep;126(3):537-544.e1.