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Contact: Gina Hebert, MBL, 508-289-7725; ghebert@mbl.edu

Bruce Ames

Well-Known Researcher to Discuss “Delaying the Degenerative Diseases of Aging” at August 8 MBL Friday Evening Lecture

MBL, WOODS HOLE, MA—World-renowned cancer researcher Dr. Bruce Ames, a senior scientist at Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute in Oakland, California and professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of California, Berkeley will present the MBL (Marine Biological Laboratory) Distinguished Alumni Friday Evening Lecture on August 8 at 8:00 PM in the MBL’s Lillie Auditorium, located on MBL Street in Woods Hole. His lecture is titled, “Delaying the Degenerative Diseases of Aging.” The presentation is free and open to the public.

Dr. Ames’ research focuses on identifying mutagenic agents that damage human DNA and the defenses against them. He is also working to elucidate the consequences of DNA damage for cancer and aging. Dr. Ames has discovered that deficiencies of certain micronutrients–such as vitamins B12, B6, C, E, folate, and niacin, and the minerals iron and zinc–appear to mimic radiation in damaging DNA. He and his group have found that folate deficiency breaks chromosomes due to massive incorporation of uracil into human DNA.

Micronutrient inadequacy is widespread in the U.S. population (especially in the poor, children, the obese, and the elderly) because of high consumption of calorie-rich micronutrient-poor unbalanced diets. Most of the world’s population, particularly the poor, has inadequate intake of one or more micronutrients. Dr. Ames’ triage theory explains why the pathology is insidious.

In the 1970s, Dr. Ames, the inventor of the Ames Test, which allows scientists to test chemicals to see whether they cause mutations in bacteria and perhaps cancer in humans, was a hero to environmentalists. His research and testimony led to bans on such synthetic chemicals as Tris, the flame-retardant used in children's pajamas.

Dr. Ames has authored more than 500 publications and is among the top few hundred most-cited scientists in all fields. He earned a B.A. in Chemistry/Biochemistry from Cornell University, a Ph.D. in Biochemistry from California Institute of Technology, and is an alumnus of the 1951 MBL Physiology course. Dr. Ames’ professional activities include a National Academy of Sciences membership, a seat on the board of directors of the National Cancer Institute, and, from 1976 to 1982, a seat on the National Cancer Advisory Board. He has won numerous awards including the American Society for Microbiology Lifetime Achievement Award, the Thomas Hunt Morgan Medal, the Linus Pauling Institute Prize for Health Research, the U.S. National Medal of Science, the Medal of the City of Paris, and the Japan Prize.

The MBL’s Friday Evening Lecture Series will continue throughout the month. The remaining lectures in the series are below.

August 15
Dr. John P. Holdren, Woods Hole Research Center
"Meeting the Climate-Change Challenge: What Do We Know? What Should We Do?"

August 22
Dr. Gary Ruvkun, Harvard Medical School, co-director MBL Molecular Biology of Aging course
"Universal Genetic Programs of Animal Longevity"


The MBL is a leading international, independent, nonprofit institution dedicated to discovery and to improving the human condition through creative research and education in the biological, biomedical and environmental sciences. Founded in 1888 as the Marine Biological Laboratory, the MBL is the oldest private marine laboratory in the Western Hemisphere. For more information, visit www.MBL.edu.