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Bruce N. Ames

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This article is part of the Tobacco portal on Sourcewatch funded from 2006 - 2009 by the American Legacy Foundation.

Bruce N. Ames, Ph.D., American molecular geneticist, is Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and Director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences Center, University of California, Berkeley.[1] In 2001, Ames was also identified as "senior scientist at Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute. His main interest of study is identifying mutagens that damage human DNA, the body's defenses against them, and the consequences of DNA damage for cancer and aging. His more than 450 publications have resulted in his being among the few hundred most-cited scientists within all fields."[2]


Biographical Sketch, National Institutes of Health, Office of NIH History:

Bruce N. Ames (1928-) American biochemist and geneticist

"Ames attended Cornell University from 1946 to 1950, receiving his B.A. degree in chemistry/biochemistry. He then moved to the California Institute of Technology for his graduate study under Herschel K. Mitchell, a former postdoctoral fellow of George Beadle, in the biology department. Ames worked on the biosynthesis of histidine in Neurospora. After taking his Ph.D. within three years, he came to the National Institute of Arthritis and Metabolic Diseases in 1953 as a Public Health Service fellow. There he isolated the enzymes involved in the histidine pathway, and began to work on gene regulation in histidine biosynthesis using Salmonella. Collaborating with Philip Hartman of the Johns Hopkins University, Ames showed that the histidine genes could be overexpressed if histidine availability limited the growth rate. He also demonstrated that the cluster of genes was controlled together as a unit by a regulatory sequence. In 1962, Ames became a section head in the newly created laboratory of molecular biology led by Gordon Tomkins.

"Ames is perhaps best known for the 'Ames test,' the test he developed for chemical mutagens. Mutagens are agents that tend to increase the frequency or extent of genetic mutation. The Ames test, which uses a rapid and inexpensive bacterial assay for mutagenicity, complements epidemiologic surveys and animal tests that are necessarily slower, more laborious, and far more expensive. Ames began to work on this test in 1964, and after moving to the University of California, Berkeley, as professor of biochemistry in 1967, he continued to improve the sensitivity of the test. The Ames test has been used extensively to help evaluate the mutagenic and carcinogenic risks of a large number of chemicals. In the 1980s, Ames' research interest shifted to the question of aging and showed the role of mitochondrial decay as a major contributor to aging and age-related degenerative diseases. He is a recipient of the National Medal of Science and a member of the National Academy of Sciences."

Source: Bruce N. Ames. "An Enthusiasm for Metabolism." Journal of Biological Chemistry 278 (2003): 4369-80.

Tobacco companies have relied heavily on the Ames test, and have used it widely in internal research on their own products. According to Jeffrey Wigand, a former Vice President of the Brown & Williamson Tobacco Company, much of this research has been kept secret, was done in overseas labs or shipped overseas to keep it outside the jurisdiction of U.S. courts.[3].

The phrase "Ames test" is mentioned over 21,000 times in the database of tobacco industry documents of the American tobacco company documents alone. About 2,300 of those documents also contain the word "confidential."


Hoover Institution, Stanford University[4]:

"Dr. Ames was director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences Center at U.C. Berkeley for twenty-three years, and he chaired the U.C. Berkeley Department of Biochemistry for six years, 1983–1989. Prior to that he was the Microbial Genetics section chief at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, a National Science Foundation senior fellow in the laboratories of Frances Crick in Cambridge, England, and F. Jacob in Paris, France, and a biochemist with the National Institutes of Health, where he began his career."


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External links

  • Brill's Content, 10/98, p.113
  • "Board of Directors", accessed January 30, 2004.
  • PubMed Correction, National Academy of Sciences: "Partial reversal by feeding acetyl-L-carnitine and/or R-α-lipoic acid," by Jiankang Liu, Elizabeth Head, Afshin M. Gharib, Wenjun Yuan, Russell T. Ingersoll, Tory M. Hagen, Carl W. Cotman, and Bruce N. Ames, which appeared in number 4, February 19, 2002, of Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA (99, 2356-2361). B.N.A. is a founder of Juvenon and chair of its Scientific Advisory Board. T.M.H. is a founder of Juvenon and member of its Scientific Advisory Board. J. Liu has been a consultant to Juvenon. Juvenon is a company founded to study in humans the effects of biochemicals that reverse the mitochondrial decay of aging in rats."
  • Susan L. Thomas, Venture steps out with 'dancing' rats, San Francisco Business Times, March 4, 2002: "For his part Ames says he isn't looking for any money from the firm. ... 'I put all of my founder's stock in a nonprofit foundation at the time of founding. I am the director of Juvenon's Scientific Advisory Board, but have no stock in the company and have not, and will not, take any reimbursement from the company,' he said."

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