CORVALLIS - Biochemist Bruce Ames, a world leader in the study of nutrition and its relationship to aging, cancer and other health concerns, has been named the first recipient of the $50,000 Linus Pauling Institute Prize for Health Research.

The award was made this weekend in Portland, Ore., at the national symposium "Diet and Optimum Health," sponsored by Oregon State University's Linus Pauling Institute. This inaugural award is designed to recognize excellence in the field of nutrition res earch, especially the study of micronutrients, vitamins and phytochemicals in promoting optimum health and preventing disease.

Ames, a professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at the University of California at Berkeley, is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and, among numerous other honors, the past recipient of the National Medal for Science for his work on ca ncer and aging. That is the highest and most prestigious award given to a scientist by the United States government.

"Bruce Ames has been described as the quintessential scientist," said Richard Scanlan, dean of research emeritus at OSU who presented the award. "His enviable record of scientific accomplishments has resulted in approximately 450 scientific publications, and he is one of the most cited authors from the 1970s to the present."

According to Scanlan, Ames is credited with key work in understanding the fundamental nature of the aging process and how certain micronutrients may become limited with age. He contributed a series of publications supporting the view that reactive oxygen -mediated damage to proteins and DNA is implicated in aging and a number of age-related diseases. His research has fundamentally changed the way in which scientists think about and approach research on cancer and carcinogenesis. And he has been highly suc cessful in communicating the implications of his research to the public, Scanlan said.

"A number of the nominators pointed to the similarity between Linus Pauling and Bruce Ames in regard to this issue," Scanlan said. "Like Pauling, Bruce Ames has been highly effective in communicating important health care information to legislative bodie s, to policy makers and to the general public."

According to Balz Frei, professor and director of the Linus Pauling Institute at OSU, this new award, funded by an anonymous donor, was created both to recognize leaders in nutrition research and to enhance the visibility and impact of that research.

"The success of our scientific investigations is useless unless the world knows of it, embraces it and behaves as our scientific discoveries dictate," Frei said. "We want the world to realize and understand how a healthy diet and a healthy lifestyle are key to good health and long life."

At the conference on Diet and Optimum Health, nationally recognized researchers in nutrition and disease presented many of the latest findings on such topics as diet and cancer epidemiology; causes and risk factors in cardiovascular disease; caloric inta ke and aging; alternative therapies for dementia; new dietary treatment for obesity; changing vitamin requirements for the elderly; and many other issues.

At OSU, the Linus Pauling Institute does cutting-edge research on health and nutrition, and works to determine the role of micronutrients, phytochemicals and vitamins in the maintainence of health and prevention of heart disease, cancer, aging and neurod egenerative disease. It was co-founded in Menlo Park, Calif., in 1973 by the late Linus Pauling, an OSU alumnus, and moved to OSU in 1996.

This symposium was one part of the year-long Linus Pauling Centenary being celebrated at OSU, on the 100th anniversary of the birth of this two-time Nobel laureate and pioneer scientist of the 20th century.

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Balz Frei, 541-737-5078