bruce amesThe first Linus Pauling Institute Prize for Health Research was presented on May 18, 2001, to Bruce Ames, Ph.D., Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and Director of the Environmental Health Sciences Center at the University of California at Berkeley.

Dr. Ames is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and a 1998 recipient of the National Medal of Science, which acknowledged him for "changing the direction of basic and applied research on mutation, cancer, and aging." He devised a widely used bacterial assay, the Salmonella Mutagenicity Assay or simply, the "Ames test", for determining the mutagenicity of chemicals that has had enormous importance in preventing their commercial introduction. Dr. Ames is a leading proponent of the hypothesis that oxidative damage to DNA, proteins, and lipids leads to aging and age-related disease, such as cancer, cataracts, and heart disease.

According to Dr. Ames, such damage may be ameliorated by dietary antioxidants like vitamins C and E. Dr. Ames has also stressed the role of chronic inflammation in cancer and has become interested in the possible causal role of B-vitamin deficiencies, including folate, B6, and B12, in cancer and brain dysfunction.

In his presentation of the award, Dr. Richard Scanlan, Dean of Research emeritus at Oregon State University and the chair of the Prize Selection Committee, noted that "Bruce Ames has been described as the quintessential scientist. 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." Scanlan continued, "Like Pauling, Bruce Ames has been highly effective in communicating important health care information to legislative bodies, to policy makers, and to the general public."

Scanlan quoted from several of the nomination letters, one of which noted that "Dr. Ames' brilliance in linking the methods and precepts of molecular biology to modern nutrition, translating this work to the promotion of health and prevention of chronic diseases, and working to apply these efforts to public health — together with his training of an international legion of scientific leaders — truly embodies the attributes and principles associated with Linus Pauling."