Kent Pinkerton: Parlaying tiny particles into big ideas

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Kent Pinkerton

Kent Pinkerton, PhD is a Professor of Pediatrics in the School of Medicine and Anatomy, Physiology and Cell Biology in the School of Veterinary Medicine. An expert on air pollution, Dr. Pinkerton researches how vapors, gases, particles and fibers change the way respiratory, cardiovascular and neurological cells develop and function.

Dr. Pinkerton’s experiments on air pollution injury, asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in animal models are widely known and fundamental in understanding the complex interplay between biological systems and the environment. 

Recognized worldwide for his work on fetal lung development, Dr. Pinkerton’s research focuses on the impact ozone, particulate matter, secondhand smoke, e-cigarettes and engineered nanomaterials have on health and disease.



Phone: (530) 752-8334

Social media: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube

Positions at UC Davis

Director, Center for Health and the Environment

Director, Western Center for Agricultural Health and Safety

Deputy Director, Environmental Health Sciences Center

Professor of Pediatrics, School of Medicine

Professor of Anatomy, Physiology and Cell Biology, School of Veterinary Medicine

Areas of expertise

  • Air pollution
  • Asthma
  • E-Cigarettes
  • Cardiorespiratory physiology
  • Comparative physiology
  • Immunology
  • Nanomaterials

Dr. Pinkerton is vice-chair of the American Thoracic Society’s International Health Committee, as well as a member of the Health Effects Advisory Committee for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the California Environmental Protection Agency.

Dr. Pinkerton sits on the editorial boards of Inhalation Toxicology and Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health.

Major research papers

Mack S et al. 2019. Age-dependent pulmonary reactivity to house dust mite allergen: A model of adult-onset asthma? American Journal of Physiology-Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology May 1;316(5):L757-L763.

Smit-McBride Z et al. 2018. Effects of aging and environmental tobacco smoke exposure on ocular and plasma circulatory microRNAs in the Rhesus macaque. Molecular Vision Sep 24;24:633-646.

Albrengues J et al. 2018. Neutrophil extracellular traps produced during inflammation awaken dormant cancer cells in mice. Science. Sep 28;361(6409).

Wang Z et al. 2018. Exposure to secondhand smoke and arrhythmogenic cardiac alternans in a mouse model. Environmental Health Perspectives. 2018 Dec;126(12):127001.

Christensen S et al. 2017. Prenatal environmental tobacco smoke exposure increases allergic asthma risk with methylation changes in mice. Environ and Molecular Mutagenesis, Jul;58(6):423-433.

Zhao D et al. 2017. Epiphyseal arterial network and inferior retinacular artery seem critical to femoral head perfusion in adults with femoral neck fractures. Clinical Orthopaedic and Related Research, Aug;475(8):2011-2023.

Sun A et al. 2017. Differential pulmonary effects of wintertime California and China particulate matter in healthy young mice. Toxicology Letters, Aug 15;278:1-8.

Kuempel ED et al. 2016. Evaluating the mechanistic evidence and key data gaps in assessing the potential carcinogenicity of carbon nanotubes and nanofibers in humans. Critical Reviews Toxicology, Jan;47(1):1-58.

Castañeda AR et al. 2016. Fine particulate matter (PM2.5) enhances allergic sensitization in BALB/c mice. Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health, Part A, 80(4): 197-207.

Shen YH et al. 2016. Sex and strain-based inflammatory response to repeated tobacco smoke exposure in spontaneously hypertensive and Wistar Kyoto rats. Inhalation Toxicology Dec;28(14):677-685.

Belafsky PC et al. 2015. Soot and house dust mite allergen cause eosinophilic laryngitis in an animal model. The Laryngoscope Jan;126(1):108-12.

Davidson RA et al. 2015. Evolution of silver nanoparticles in the rat lung investigated by X-ray absorption spectroscopy. The Journal of Physical Chemistry Jan 15; 119(2): 281–289.

Ewart GW et al. 2015. From closing the atmospheric ozone hole to reducing climate change. Lessons learned. Annals of the American Thoracic Society Feb;12(2):247-51.

Mirowsky JE et al. 2015. In vitro and in vivo toxicity of urban and rural particulate matter from California. Atmospheric Environment Feb; 103: 256–262.

Anderson DS et al. 2015. Influence of particle size on persistence and clearance of aerosolized silver nanoparticles in the rat lung. Toxicological Sciences Apr;144(2):366-81.

Pinkerton KE et al. 2015. Women and Lung Disease. Sex Differences and Global Health Disparities American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine Jul 1;192(1):11-6.

Anderson DS et al. 2015. Persistence of silver nanoparticles in the rat lung: Influence of dose, size, and chemical composition. Nanotoxicology, 9(5):591-602.

Carosino CM et al. 2015. Allergic airway inflammation is differentially exacerbated by daytime and nighttime ultrafine and submicron fine ambient particles: Heme oxygenase-1 as an indicator of PM-mediated allergic inflammation. Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health 78(4):254-66.


  • 2019 Distinguished University Professor
  • 2008 University Citation for Distinguished Teaching, University of California, Davis
  • 2006 Faculty Teaching Award, School of Veterinary Medicine
  • 2000 Favorite Teacher Award, School of Veterinary Medicine
  • 1998 Favorite Teacher Award, School of Veterinary Medicine

Video archive

California National Primate Research Center Inhalation Exposure Facility, September 1, 2015

Health effects of Central Valley particulate matter, California Air Resources Board Seminars, University of California, Davis, May 27, 2015

Toxicity of source-oriented ambient submicron particulate matter, California Air Resources Board Seminars, University of California, Davis, February 19, 2013

Kent Pinkerton on climate change and public health, Etopia News, March 17, 2012


  • PhD, Pathology, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina, 1982
  • MS, Pathology, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina, 1978
  • BS, Microbiology, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah, 1974