Bruce Nathan Ames - Paradigm shifts inside the cancer research revolution

Carr J. Smith, Thomas A. Perfetti, Sir Colin Berry, Douglas E. Brash, James Bus, Edward Calabrese, Roger A. Clemens, John R.Jack Fowle, Helmut Greim, James T. MacGregor, Robert Maronpot, Peter Pressman, Errol Zeiger, A. Wallace Hayes

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Dr. Bruce Ames turned 92 on December 16, 2020. He considers his most recent work linking adequate consumption of 30 known vitamins and minerals with successful aging to be his most important contribution. With the passage of time, it is not uncommon for the accomplishments of a well-known scientist to undergo a parsimonious reductionism in the public mind - Pasteur's vaccine, Mendel's peas, Pavlov's dogs, Ames’ test. Those of us in the research generation subsequent to Dr. Ames’ are undoubtedly affected by our own unconscious tendencies toward accepting the outstanding achievements of the past as commonplace. In doing so, seminal advances made by earlier investigators are often inadvertently subsumed into common knowledge. But having followed Ames’ work since the mid-1970s, we are cognizant that the eponymous Ames Test is but a single chapter in a long and rich narrative. That narrative begins with Ames' classic studies on the histidine operon of Salmonella, for which he was elected to the National Academy of Sciences. A summary of the historical progression of the understanding of chemical carcinogenesis to which Ames and his colleagues contributed is provided. Any summary of a topic as expansive and complex as the ongoing unraveling of the mechanisms underlying chemical carcinogenesis will only touch upon some of the major conceptual advances to which Ames and his colleagues contributed. We hope that scientists of all ages familiar with Ames only through the eponymous Ames Test will further investigate the historical progression of the conceptualization of cancer caused by chemical exposure. As the field of chemical carcinogenesis gradually moves away from primary reliance on animal testing to alternative protocols under the rubric of New Approach Methodologies (NAM) an understanding of where we have been might help to guide where we should go.

Original languageEnglish
Article number108363
JournalMutation Research - Reviews in Mutation Research
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Ames test
  • Bruce Ames
  • Database of cancer bioassay results
  • Gene mutations
  • Linking vitamins and minerals with successful aging


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