Dr. Melissa J. Scott and Dr. Keisha L. Bentley-Edwards, both of the Cook Center, have recently been awarded a pilot grant from the Duke Global Health Institute (DGHI) and the Nicholas School of the Environment (NSOE) for their proposed investigation into the racialized effects of climate change.

The funding, awarded to the chosen projects that promise to “stimulate interdisciplinary research in global environmental health,” will help jumpstart the researchers’ plan to study whether national trends of neighborhood temperature disparities are similarly prevalent in Durham, North Carolina–and if they lead to racial disparities in heat-related illnesses and deaths.

In particular, a recent study has found that historically redlined neighborhoods across America are hotter than their non-redlined counterparts: a result of decades of lending to and investment in the redlined areas and, thus, a lack of shade-providing canopies and a bevy of heat-trapping elements. Scott, a postdoctoral associate at the Center, and Bentley-Edwards plan to advance this research by comparing Durham’s six redlined neighborhoods to its non-redlined areas and answering two crucial questions: Do the redlined neighborhoods account for a disproportionate amount of heat-related illnesses and deaths, and do disparities exist in the prevalence of heat-related illnesses and deaths across races?

Bentley-Edwards, the Cook Center’s associate director of research and the director of its health equity working group, as well as an assistant professor of general internal medicine at Duke, will be the co-principal investigator on the project along with Kate Hoffman, an assistant research professor in environmental sciences and policy at the Nicholas School.

More information about the DGHI / NSOE Grant is available on the DGHI website.