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Paul Turner

Associate Professor, Maryland Institute for Applied Environmental Health

Dr. Turner is an Associate Professor in Applied Environmental Health. His teaching and research involve understanding chemical exposures in acute and chronic disease. His research is global and focuses on supporting underserved populations, predominantly in sub-Saharan Africa to understand and mitigate adverse early life exposures from naturally occurring dietary toxins. Dr. Turner is also the Director of the Mass Spectrometry - Small Molecule Core Facility in the School of Public Health.


SPH | Room 2234J

(301) 405-6583

Areas of Interest

Core Faculty

Food and Chemical Toxicology; Mycotoxins, Aflatoxins, Fumonisins and Deoxynivalenol; Children and Infant Health; Global Health; Intervention and Mitigation

Dr. Turner's research involves exposure assessment, molecular epidemiology and mitigation of chronic disease. Particularly, he is interested in dietary toxins that are linked to cancer, immune suppression and early life growth retardation. Toxins of particular concern include aflatoxins, fumonisins and deoxynivalenol. These are global dietary contaminants, with most of the health concerns restricted to developing countries where agricultural and food security is limited.

Child and infant health in Africa have been a major focus over the last 20 years. Research has involved activities in Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Cameroon, The Gambia, Guinea, Benin, Togo and Burkina Faso, in addition to Iran, China, Brazil, Mexico, Sweden, France and the UK.

Fundamental research question includes (a) understanding the mechanism(s) of observational data on dose-related aflatoxin growth faltering; (b) understanding synergistic interactions between aflatoxin and hepatitis virus in liver cancer risk; (c) understanding the potential contribution that aflatoxin plays in early life morbidity and mortality in developing countries, including modulations in susceptibility to infections; (d) development and implementation of sustainable interventions to restrict exposure in the most vulnerable groups; (e) understanding of global climate change models and their impact on changing world patterns and levels of toxin exposure.

Seminal work in Africa included understanding the relationship between biomarkers of aflatoxin exposures and hepatitis B virus in young children (Turner et al., 2000. Hepatitis B Infection and aflatoxin biomarker levels in Gambian children. Tropical Med. Int Health), aflatoxins role in immune suppression in children (Turner et al., (2003). Modification of immune function through exposure to dietary aflatoxin in Gambian children. Environmental Health Perspectives), and aflatoxins role in stunting in infants and young children (Turner et al., (2007). Aflatoxin exposure in utero causes growth faltering in Gambian infants. Int J. Epidemiology; Gong et al., (2004) Post-weaning exposure to aflatoxin results in impaired child growth: a longitudinal study in Benin, West Africa. Environmental Health Perspectives)

Dr. Turner additionally demonstrated an affordable and sustainable intervention strategy to reduce aflatoxin exposure through improved drying and storage activity of dietary staples at high risk of contamination, subsequently, a WHO/IARC recommended approach. Turner et al., (2005). Reduction in exposure to carcinogenic aflatoxins by simple post-harvest intervention measures in West Africa. Lancet. The desire to mitigate aflatoxin exposure remains a fundamental aspect of Dr. Turner's research, Phillips et al., (2020). Randomized mitigation trial to restrict mycotoxin exposure in Kongwa, Tanzania: Study Design. BMC Public Health.

More recently Dr Turner has engaged with the Tanzanian team of  the FEW- Nexus that aims to solve combined food, energy and water issues in global settings. 

In addition to his SPH role, Dr. Turner is an Associate Faculty with the Joint Institute for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition/CFS3. and is the Director of the Mass-Spectrometry - Small Molecule Core Facility. 

PhD, Chemistry, 1995

University of Edinburgh, UK

B.Sc. (with Honors), Biochemistry & Toxicology, 1990

University of Surrey, UK

MIEH600 Foundations of Environmental Health

MIEH720 Principles of Toxicology

MIEH735 / NSFC 735 Food Toxicology

MIEH771 Exposure Assessment of Environmental Hazards

MIEH688 Seminar in Environmental Health

SPH - Research Day - International collaboration Award, 2011

World Mycotoxin Journal - Best research article Award, 2008

Mass Spectrometry Training Award - University of Leeds, 2008

CGIAR Science Award for Outstanding Scientific Article, 2003

Travel Award – Visiting Scientist Johns Hopkins University, 2003

University of Leeds 5 Yr Fellowship, 2002

Young Investigator Award - AACR-Pharmacia & Upjohn Young Investigator, 2000

AUS in Environmental Biochemistry and Toxicology, 1989

Kassim N, Ngure FM, Turner PC, Stoltzfus R, Smith LE, Makule E, Makori N, Phillips EL (2023). Provision of low-aflatoxin local complementary porridge flour reduced urinary aflatoxin biomarker in children aged 6-18 months in rural Tanzania. Mat. Child Nutr. 19 (3): e13499

Ngure F, Neema Kassim N, Phillips E, Turner PC (2023) Infant and Young Child Feeding Practices and Mycotoxin Contamination of Complementary Food Ingredients in Kongwa District, Tanzania. Curr. Dev. Nutr. 7(2): 100030.

Phillips EL, Turner PC, Kassim N, Ngure FM, Makule E, Smith LE, Nelson RJ, Stoltzfus R. (2022) Ethical consideration in the design and conduct of a cluster-randomised mycotoxin mitigation trial in Tanzania. World Mycotoxin J. (

Ezekiel CE, Abia WA, Braun D, Šarkanj D, Ayeni KI, Oyedele OA, Michael-Chikezie EC, Ezekiel VC, Mark B, Ahuchaogu CP, Krska R, Sulyok M, Turner PC, Warth B. (2022) Mycotoxin exposure biomonitoring in breastfed and non-exclusively breastfed Nigerian children. Environ. Int. 158(6):106996. DOI: 10.1016/j.envint.2021.106996 .

Turner PC and *Snyder JA (2021) Development and limitations of exposure biomarkers to dietary contaminants mycotoxins. Toxins 13(5), 314;

Schmidt J, Cramer B, Turner PC, Stoltzfus R, Humphrey JH, Smith LE, Humpf H-U, (2021) Determination of urinary mycotoxin biomarkers using a sensitive online solid phase extraction-UHPLC-MS/MS method. Toxins 13, 418. 13060418

Lo EKK, Lee JCY, Turner PC, El-Nezami H, (2021) “Low dose of zearalenone elevated colon cancer cell growth through G protein-coupled estrogenic receptor”. Scientific Reports - Nature DOI: 10.1038/s41598-021-86788-w. 

Ghosh R, Haque M, Turner PC, Cruz-Cano R, Dallal CM (2021) Racial and sex differences between urinary phthalates and metabolic syndrome among U.S adults: NHANES 2005-2014. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 18, 6870.

Abia WA, Tchana AT, Djonabaye D, Sarkanj, Ezekiel CN, Mfopouf EY, Sulyok M, Turner PC, Elliott CT, Warth B, Krska R, Moundipab PF. (2020) Assessment of urinary biomarkers of mycotoxin exposures in adults from Cameroon. Exposure and Health (submitted). 

Phillips EL, Kassim N, Smith LE, Ngure FM, Makule E, Turner PC, Nelson RJ, Kimanya M, Stoltzfus R. (2020). Randomized mitigation trial to restrict mycotoxin exposure in Kongwa, Tanzania: Study Design. BMC Public Health 20:598. 

Ezekiel CN, Sulyok M, Ogara IM, Abia WA, Warth B, Šarkanj B, Turner PC, Krska R. (2019) Mycotoxins in uncooked food and ready-to-eat household diets from rural northern Nigeria. Food and Chemical Toxicology. 128:171-9.

Craddock H, Huang D, Quiros-Alcala, L, Turner PC, Payne-Sturges D. (2019) Trends in neonicotinoid pesticide residues in food and water in the United States, 1999-2015. Environmental Health. 8(1):7.

Smith LE, Mbuya MNN, Prendergast AJ, Turner PC, Ruboko S, Humphrey JH, Nelson RJ, Chigumira A, Kembo G, Stoltzfus RJ. (2017) Determinants of urinary aflatoxin M1 in pregnant women in rural Zimbabwe. Molecular and Nutritional Food Research.

Abia W, Warth B, Ezekiel CN, Sarkanje B, Turner PC, Krska R, Sulyoka M. (2017) Uncommon toxic microbial metabolite patterns in traditionally home-processed maize porridge (fufu) consumed in rural Cameroon. Food and Chemical Toxicology 107: 10-19.

Smith L, Prendergast A, Turner PC, Humphrey JH, Stoltzfus R. (2017) Aflatoxin exposure in pregnancy, maternal anaemia and adverse birth outcomes: A review. Am. J. Trop. Med. Hygiene 96(4) 770-6.

Warth B, Braun D, *Ezekiel CN, Turner PC, Degen GH, Marko D. (2016). Bio-monitoring of mycotoxins in human breast milk: Current state and future perspectives. Chem. Res. Toxicol. 29: 1087–97.

Smith LE, Prendergast AJ, Turner PC, Mbuya MN, Mutasa K, Kembo G, Stoltzfus RJ (2015). The potential role of mycotoxins as a contributor to stunting in the SHINE Trial. Clin. Infect. Dis. 61 Suppl 7:S733-7.

Wan ML, Allen KJ, Turner PC, El-Nezami H. (2014). Modulation of mucin mRNA (MUC5AC and MUC5B) expression and protein production and secretion in Caco-2/HT29-MTX co-cultures following exposure to individual and combined Fusarium mycotoxins. Toxicol. Sci. 139: 83-98.