Pauline Duke taught high school science for 6 years after receiving her MAT and prior to entering the PhD Program at Emory University, which she completed in 1978. From 1978-1980, she was a National Research Council Postdoctoral Fellow in the Biomedical Laboratories at the Johnson Space Center studying effects of in utero and in vitro centrifugation on skeletal development. After joining the faculty of the School of Dentistry in 1980, these pioneering studies were extended to in vivo effects of excess gravity on mice, including the cephalometric analysis of mice raised under excess gravity. The culture centrifuge used for limb studies was also used to culture palatal shelves in excess gravity. Dr. Duke is a member of the University of Texas Graduate School for Biomedical Sciences and has a tutorial for students interested in Space Biology. She has provided numerous students from high school to graduate school with research experience in gravitational and space biology. Dr. Duke has also worked on several spaceflights (Spacelab 3, Cosmos 1886 and 2044) and several simulations, all directed at determining the effect of gravitational changes on skeletal development.
At the School of Dentistry, Dr. Duke extended her studies of skeletal development to analyses of cells from humans with hereditary multiple exostoses, and pseudoachondroplasia. In addition, her lab has carried out detailed studies of transgenic achondroplasia mice. As an investigator on ESA's Biorack on the International Microgravity laboratory-I mission in 1992, Dr. Duke was instrumental in developing hardware for cell culture in space. Her interest in growing cartilage in altered gravity led her to work with JSC on growing cartilage in the rotating bioreactor. This led to a series of tissue engineering experiments which culminated in a seed grant to look at the process in more detail. These studies now use bone marrow stem cells.
Dr. Duke's lab has also used the rotating bioreactor to culture embryonic heads in an effort to develop a system to study development of the brachial arches. Her lab has also studied a calcifying alga, Pleurochrysis carterae. See Algae and Dentistry.