Photo of Joseph S. BeckmanPrincipal Investigator and Burgess and Elizabeth Jamieson Chair in Healthspan Research, Linus Pauling Institute
Distinguished Professor, Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics
Director, Environmental Health Sciences Center

Office: 1011 Ag & Life Sciences Bldg
Telephone: 541-737-8867
Fax: 541-737-4371
Email Address:

Mailing/Express Delivery Address:
Joseph Beckman, Ph.D.
Environmental Health Sciences Center
Oregon State University
1011 Ag & Life Sciences Bldg
Corvallis, OR 97331-7302

Research Interests

Since 2002, I have served as Director of OSU’s Environmental Health Sciences Center, which is funded by the National Institutes of Health to support research on the role of the environment in causing disease. The Center provides advanced technology that supports LPI researchers with the long-term goal of understanding how we can reduce our susceptibility to environmental stress as we age.

A major research project in my laboratory is aimed at understanding how oxidative stress, superoxide dismutase, and zinc are involved in Lou Gehrig’s disease, also known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). ALS is a dreadful disease caused by the unexplained death of motor neurons that control the movement of all voluntary muscles. We have only about 500,000 motor neurons at birth that cannot be replaced. Mutations in the antioxidant enzyme superoxide dismutase are the first identified cause of ALS. Our research indicates that the loss of zinc from superoxide dismutase is what causes motor neurons to die. We have shown that supporting cells in the spinal cord called astrocytes are key to understanding why the disease progresses. We are also investigating other dietary supplements, such as lipoic acid, acetyl-L-carnitine, and alpha-tocopherol, as possible means to slow the progression of ALS.

The second major project in the laboratory focuses on the roles of nitric oxide, peroxynitrite, and nitrotyrosine in human disease. The major function of superoxide dismutase is to scavenge superoxide, which is an oxygen radical. Nitric oxide also has a “dark side” and, following reaction with superoxide to produce the powerful oxidant peroxynitrite, can promote oxidative and nitrative damage to blood vessels, skin, heart, lung, kidney, and brain. We are characterizing the role of peroxynitrite in injuring cells and how cells respond to this damage.


1975 B.A., Molecular Biology (Cum Laude), University of Colorado, Boulder, CO
1977 M.A., Population Biology, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO
1984 Ph.D., Plant Physiology and Biochemistry, Duke University, Durham, NC

Military Service

1978 Administrative Officer, 665th Medical Detachment (Dental), US Eighth Army, Seoul, Korea
1979 Company Commander, Co. D, 1st Battalion, Academy of Health Sciences, Fort Sam Houston, Texas
1979-1991 Captain, Medical Service Corps, US Army Reserve

Professional Experience

1984 Research Associate, Department of Pulmonary Medicine, Duke University, Durham, NC
1985 Research Instructor, Department of Anesthesiology, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL
1988 Assistant Professor, Department of Anesthesiology, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL
1992 Associate Professor, Department of Anesthesiology, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL
1994 Professor, Departments of Anesthesiology, Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics, and Neurobiology, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL
1995 Guest Professor, ETH Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zürich
2000 Guest Professor, Universität Konstanz, Germany
2001-present Principal Investigator, Ava Helen Pauling Chair, Linus Pauling Institute
Professor, Biochemistry and Biophysics, Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon (OR)
2002-present Director, Environmental Health Sciences Center

Recent Grants

2003-08 NIH P01 AT002034 "CER on CAM Antioxidant Therapies (CERCAT)", Project Leader "CAM Antioxidants and ALS"
2005-06 ALS Association "Measuring Copper, Zinc, and Cysteine Oxidation of SOD1 in ALS Mice and Rats"
2007-10 ALS Association "Relating Superoxide with Zinc Deficiency of SOD1 in ALS Rats and Mice"
2008-13 NIH P01 AT002034 "CER on CAM Antioxidant Therapies (CERCAT)", Project Leader "CAM Antioxidants in Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis"
2008-13 NIH R01 NS058628 "Superoxide Dismutase, Peroxynitrite and ALS"

Professional Activities and Memberships

Editorial Boards

Free Radical Biology & Medicine
Archives Biochemistry and Biophysics
Chemical Research in Toxicology


Regular Reviewer, NIH NSPA (1996-2000)
Regular Reviewer, NIH NLS-3 (1993-1996)
Ad Hoc Reviewer, NIH SBIR

Professional Societies

The Oxygen Society
American Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Society for Cerebral Blood Flow and Metabolism
Scientific Advisor to International Nitric Oxide Society
Scientific Advisor to the Muscular Dystrophy Association ALS Group

Recent Publications

Trias E, Ibarburu S, Barreto-Núñez R, Babdor J, Maciel TT, Guillo M, Gros L, Dubreuil P, Díaz-Amarilla P, Cassina P, Martínez-Palma L, Moura IC, Beckman JS, Hermine O, Barbeito L. (2016) Post-paralysis tyrosine kinase inhibition with masitinib abrogates neuroinflammation and slows disease progression in inherited amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. J. Neuroinflammation 13:177.

Williams JR, Trias E, Beilby PR, Lopez NI, Labut EM, Bradford CS, Roberts BR, McAllum EJ, Crouch PJ, Rhoads TW, Pereira C, Son M, Elliott JL, Franco MC, Estévez AG, Barbeito L, Beckman JS. (2016) Copper delivery to the CNS by CuATSM effectively treats motor neuron disease in SOD(G93A) mice co-expressing the Copper-Chaperone-for-SOD. Neurobiol Dis 89:1-9.

Voinov VG, Hoffman PD, Bennett SE, Beckman JS, Barofsky DF. (2015) Electron capture dissociation of sodium-adducted peptides on a modified quadrupole/time-of-flight mass spectrometer. J Am Soc Mass Spectrom 26:2096-2104.

Roemeling MD, Williams J, Beckman JS, Hurst, JK. (2015) Imidazole catalyzes chlorination by unreactive primary chloramines.  Free Radic Biol Med 82:167-178.

Schwarzländer M, Wagner S, Ermakova YG, Belousov VV, Radi R, Beckman JS, Buettner GR, Demaurex N, Duchen MR, Forman HJ, Fricker MD, Gems D, Halestrap AP, Halliwell B, Jakob U, Johnston IG, Jones NS, Logan DC, Morgan B, Müller FL, Nicholls DG, Remington SJ, Schumacker PT, Winterbourn CC, Sweetlove LJ, Meyer AJ, Dick TP, Murphy MP. (2014) The 'mitoflash' probe cpYFP does not respond to superoxide. Nature 514:E12-14.

Voinov VG, Bennett SE, Beckman JS, Barofsky DF. (2014) ECD of tyrosine phosphorylation in a triple quadrupole mass spectrometer with a radio-frequency-free electromagnetostatic cell. J Am Soc Mass Spectrom 25:1730-1738.

Roberts BR, Lim NK, McAllum EJ, Donnelly PS, Hare DJ, Doble PA, Turner BJ, Price KA, Chun Lim S, Paterson BM, Hickey JL, Rhoads TW, Williams JR, Kanninen KM, Hung LW, Liddell JR, Grubman A, Monty JF, Llanos RM, Kramer DR, Mercer JF, Bush AI, Masters CL, Duce JA, Li QX, Beckman JS, Barnham KJ, White AR, Crouch PJ. (2014) Oral treatment with CuII(atsm) increases mutant SOD1 in vivo but protects motor neurons and improves the phenotype of a transgenic mouse model of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. J Neurosci 34:8021-8031.

Trias E, Díaz-Amarilla P, Olivera-Bravo S, Isasi E, Drechsel DA, Lopez N, Bradford CS, Ireton KE, Beckman JS, Barbeito L. (2013) Phenotypic transition of microglia into astrocyte-like cells associated with disease onset in a model of inherited ALS. Front Cell Neurosci 7:274.

Gandelman M, Levy M, Cassina P, Barbeito L, Beckman JS. (2013) P2X7 receptor-induced death of motor neurons by a peroxynitrite/FAS-dependent pathway. J Neurochem 126:382-388.

Bahadorani S, Mukai ST, Rabie J, Beckman JS, Phillips JP, Hilliker AJ. (2013) Expression of zinc-deficient human superoxide dismutase in Drosophila neurons produces a locomotor defect linked to mitochondrial dysfunction. Neurobiol Aging 34:2322-2330.

Franco MC, Ye Y, Refakis CA, Feldman JL, Stokes AL, Basso M, Melero Fernández de Mera RM, Sparrow NA, Calingasan NY, Kiaei M, Rhoads TW, Ma TC, Grumet M, Barnes S, Beal MF, Beckman JS, Mehl R, Estévez AG. (2013) Nitration of Hsp90 induces cell death. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 110:E1102-E1111.

Rhoads TW, Williams JR, Lopez NI, Morré JT, Bradford CS, Beckman JS. (2013) Using theoretical protein isotopic distributions to parse small-mass-difference post-translational modifications via mass spectrometry. J Am Soc Mass Spectrom 24:115-124.