David Williams

Helen P. Rumbel Professor for Cancer Prevention
david.williams [at] oregonstate.edu

Office: 541-737-3277
Fax: 541-737-0497

Linus Pauling Science Center

Linus Pauling Science Center 473

2900 Southwest Campus Way

2900 Southwest Campus Way
Corvallis, OR 97331

My research interests focus on environmental carcinogens with an emphasis on polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), formed from the incomplete combustion of carbon materials (coal, wood, petroleum, etc.).  We seek to determine not only how these chemicals cause cancer but also approaches for prevention and intervention, primarily by diet.  Past studies have employed trout, zebrafish and mice.  Currently, we are utilizing accelerator mass spectrometry, capable of detection at attomole (10-18) to zeptomole (10-21) levels allowing us to safely (FDA-IND) dose humans with carcinogens at levels at or below average daily exposures.  This allows, for the first time, to study the absorption, metabolism and excretion of these chemicals in humans which will benefit regulatory agencies such as the EPA that are required to set safe limit of exposure but currently have to rely on animal data employing typically a million-times the average exposure.  I am an Investigator in The Linus Pauling Institute and in this study we are examining how phytochemicals found in cruciferous vegetables can protect humans from these chemical carcinogens by reducing their absorption or enhancing the rate of detoxication and excretion.

GRANT SUPPORT (as PI or project leader)

Past Support:

NIH‑R23 HL35473, "A Novel FAD‑Containing Monooxygenase in Lung", $152,950 (total), 8/1/86‑7/31/89 (this New Investigator Research Award was converted to a FIRST Award on 4/1/87).

OSU Marine/Freshwater Biomedical Sciences Center, "Peroxidative Pathways of Carcinogenesis in Trout", $14,992, 2/1/88-1/31/89.

  1. Lung Association of Oregon, "Metabolism of Xenobiotics by Lung Flavin‑Containing Monooxygenase", $14,130, 6/1/88‑5/31/89.

NIH‑R29 HL38650, "Novel FAD‑Containing Monooxygenase in Lung", $507,450 (total), 4/1/87‑3/31/92.

NIH-P01 ES04766, "Rainbow Trout: A Model for Environmental Carcinogenesis", Dr. Williams, PI on Project 6, "Peroxidative Pathways of Carcinogenesis in Trout", $549,120 (total for project 6), 9/1/88-4/30/94.

NIH-R01 HL38650, "Flavin-Containing Monooxygenase in Lung", $524,163 (total), 4/1/92-6/30/97.

OSU Environmental Health Sciences Center, "Xenobiotic Metabolism by Nasal Monooxygenases", $13,490,


OSU Marine/Freshwater Biomedical Sciences Center, "Carcinogenicity of Fumonisin B1 in Trout", $15,000, 7/1/96-6/30/97.

OSU Environmental Health Sciences Center, "Dietary Ginseng as a Modulator of Carcinogenesis", $24,993, 7/1/96-6/30/97.

NIH-R01 HL38650, "Flavin-Containing Monooxygenase in Lung", $1,600,790 (total), 7/1/97-6/30/05.

NIH-T35 ES007316, “Short-Term Research Training for Minority Students”, $81,000 (total), 04/01/98-3/31/03

NIH‑P01 ES04766, "Rainbow Trout: A Model for Environmental Carcinogenesis", Dr. Williams PI on Project 3, "Promotion by Indole-3-Carbinol and Ah Receptor Agonists", $809,300 (total for Project 3), 5/1/94‑4/30/00.

Oregon State University, Building Use Credits, “Building Tank Aeration System for the Food Toxicology and Nutrition Laboratory”, $31,376 (FY 2001-2002).

Oregon State University, Building Use Credits, “Renovation of Weniger 427 for a Fish Culture Lab”, $13,318, (FY 2002-2003).

NIH-T32 ES07060-26, "Mode of Action of Environmental Toxicants", $2,603,200 (total), 7/1/04-6/30/09 (PI until 6/30/06). Note- This training grant was voluntarily transferred to another PI.

NIH-P30 ES03850-19, “Marine and Freshwater Biomedical Sciences Center”, $2,175,000 (total), 4/1/04-3/31/09. Note: The NIEHS combined the two Centers at Oregon State University; as part of that agreement, Dr. Williams (PI) gave up this P30 two years early.

NIH-P01 CA90890-06, “Comparative Mechanisms of Cancer Chemoprevention”, Dr. Williams PI on Project 2, “Transplacental Chemoprotection and GI Bioavailability”, $1,448,560 (total), 3/1/03-2/29/08.

NIH- R01 ES013534, “Ultra-Low Dose Carcinogen Testing with the Trout Model”, $1,988,400 (total), 7/1/05-9/30/09.

NIH- P42 ES016465-05S1, K.C. Donnelly Supplement to SRP, $10,800 (total) 04/01/13-03/31/14.

NIH- P42 ES016465-05S2, K.C. Donnelly Supplement to SRP, $10,800 (total) 04/01/13-03/31/14.

Allergan- ATX ALGN 1205 Williams Drugs Development, “ALGN Activity of Monooxygenases”, $44,706 (total), 4/1/2005-12/31/2005.

NIH-R01 HL38650-24, “Flavin-Containing Monooxygenase in Lung”, $1,460,000 (total), 3/1/10-2/28/14

NIH- P01 CA90890-11 Rod Dashwood (PI) NIH/NCI- “Comparative Mechanisms of Cancer Chemoprevention (competing renewal)”, Dr. Williams, Director of Project 2- “Epigenetic Mechanisms of Transplacental Cancer Chemoprevention:”, $1,752,000 (total) for project 2, 4/1/10-3/31/16.

OHSU/OSU Cancer Prevention and Control Initiative Pilot Projects- “Zebrafish as a Model for Chemoprevention of T-Cell Lymphoblastic Leukemia (T-ALL)”, $50,00, 1/1/16-12/31/16.

Role (PI)

OSU Agriculture Research Foundation (ARF), “Phytochemical Supplement From Cruciferous Vegetables and Protection of the Fetus from Exposure to Carcinogens: Role of Long Non-Coding RNAs”, $12,500, 02/1/16-1/31/18.

Role (PI)


Current Support:

NIH- P42 ES016465-07, “PAHs: New Technologies and Emerging Health Risks”, $3.1 million (annual total), 4/1/09-3/31/19.

NIH- T32ES007060-37, “Integrated Regional Training Program in Environmental Health Sciences”, This training grant provides funding for 5 predoctoral and 3 postdoctoral trainees.

Role (Co-I)

NIH- NIEHS, “Benzo[a]pyrene Micro-dosing of Humans: A New Tool for Exposure, Risk Assessment and Prevention”, R01 ES028600-01A1, 01-01-2018-11/30/2022, $2.51 million (total), Williams, PI, Smith and Tilton, co-Is.

Curriculum Vitae: 

Profile Field Tabs

Affiliated with: 
Enviro / Molecular Toxic
Do you accept grad students?: 
I accept graduate students for the Environmental and Molecular Toxicology Department
Courses Taught: 

TOX 411/511- Fundamentals in Toxicology

OSU Main Campus
Beyond OSU
Personal Interests: 

Rainy days, long walks on the beach, working for world peace




Reed College: B.A. in Biology, 1975

Thesis: "Effect of Chronic Low Level Exposure to 4,4'‑Dichlorobiphenyl on the Liver Microsomal Metabolism of Steroids in Rana pipens"

Oregon State University: M.S. in Biochemistry, 1981

Thesis: “Analysis of Cytochrome P‑450 Isozymes from Rat Liver and Studies on the Mechanism of Induction"

Oregon State University: Ph.D. in Biochemistry, 1982

Thesis: "Purification, Characterization and Comparative Properties of Hepatic Mixed‑Function Oxidase

Enzymes from Rat and Rainbow Trout"



06/16-present Affiliate Member, OHSU Knight Cancer Institute Program Leaders Group, Cancer Prevention and Control Research Program

04/09-12/14 Director, Superfund Research Center, Oregon State University

01/02-03/09 Director, Marine/Freshwater Biomedical Sciences Center, Oregon State University.

07/98-06/01 Chief, Cancer Chemoprevention Program, Linus Pauling Institute, Oregon State University.

07/97-present Professor, Dept. Environmental and Molecular Toxicology, Oregon State University.

03/07-09/07 Interim Dept. Head, Environmental and Molecular Toxicology, Oregon State University

07/95-06/97 Professor, Dept. Food Sci. & Tech. and Toxicology Prog., Oregon State University.

07/94-06/06 Director, NIEHS Toxicology Training Grant, Oregon State University.

07/91-12/01 Deputy Director, Marine/Freshwater Biomedical Sciences Center, Oregon State University.

07/91‑06/95 Associate Professor, Dept. Food Sci. & Tech., and Toxicology Prog., Oregon State University.

02/87‑06/91 Assistant Professor, Dept. Food Sci. & Tech., and Toxicology Prog., Oregon State University.

06/86‑02/87 Assistant Professor (Sr. Res.), Department of Agricultural Chemistry, Oregon State University.

07/85‑06/86 Research Assistant Professor, Dept. Biochemistry, Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee.

07/84‑06/85 Instructor, Dept. Biochemistry, Medical College of Wisconsin.

11/82‑06/84 Research Associate, Dept. Biochemistry, Medical College of Wisconsin; under the direction of Dr.

Bettie Sue Masters.

09/16- Helen P. Rumbel Professorship for Cancer Prevention, Linus Pauling Institute, Oregon State Univ.

06/16- Research Member, Knight Cancer Prevention & Control Research Program, OHSU.

My Publications


Journal Article


Proceedings and Conference Presentations: 

"Characterization and Regulation of an Extrahepatic Form of Rabbit FAD‑Containing Monooxygenase", presented at the 1986 meeting of the American Society of Biological Chemistry.

Seminar: "Factors Regulating the Activity of the Flavin‑Containing Monooxygenase", Fourth International Symposium on the Biological Oxidation of Nitrogen in Organic Molecules (Session Co‑Chairman), September 1989, Munich, West Germany.

Invited Speaker: 1991 Gordon Research Conference on Drug Metabolism, July 1991, Hanover, NH.

Invited Speaker: 1992 Symposium "Molecular Biology and Enzymology of the Multisubstrate Flavin-Containing Monooxygenase Gene Family", April 1992, FASEB meeting, Anaheim, CA.

Symposium Co-Chair: "Molecular Biology of Flavin-Containing Monooxygenase", 1993, Society of Toxicology meeting, Dallas, TX.

Invited Speaker: 1995 Gordon Research Conference on Phycotoxins and Mycotoxins, June, 1995, Plymouth, NH.

Invited Plenary Lecture: "Dietary Modulation of Flavin-Containing Monooxygenase", October 1996, ISSX, San Diego.

Invited Speaker: "Dietary Regulation of Flavin-Containing Monooxygenase (FMO) in Animals", March, 1999, First International Workshop on Trimethylaminuria, NIH, Bethesda, MD.

Session Chair and Member of the International Scientific Program Advisory Committee: “Sixth International Symposium on Biological Reactive Intermediates”, July, 2000, Paris, France.


Invited Speaker: “The Risks and Benefits of Chemoprotection of Cancer with Phytochemicals and Supplements: Focus on Indole-3-Carbinol and Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA)”, May, 2001, 30th International Conference of Nutritional Medicine Today, Toronto.

Seminar: “Developmental Regulation of Flavin-Containing Monooxygenases (FMOs) and Genetic Polymorphisms”, University of Wisconsin Environmental Health Sciences Center Annual Symposium, “Oxidative Metabolism: Potential Roles in Physiological Signaling and Toxicity, June 7-8, 2001, Madison, WI.

Invited Speaker: “Genetic Polymorphisms of Flavin-Containing Monooxygenase (FMO)”, 5th International Symposium on the Biological Oxidation of Nitrogen in Organic Molecules, Munich, Germany, October 4-6, 2001.

Invited Speaker: “Genetic Polymorphism in Expression of Human Flavin-Containing Monooxygenase Isoform 2: Role in Drug Metabolism”, Second Trimethylaminuria Workshop, March 15-16, 2002, NIH, Bethesda.

Invited Speaker: “FMO2 Expression: Influence of Genetic Variation and Developmental Factors”, Symposium on the Flavin-Containing Monooxygenase, ASPET annual meeting, New Orleans, April, 2002.

Invited Speaker: “The Rainbow Trout Model”, Symposium on Issues related to the use of fish in Toxicologic Pathology, Society of Toxicologic Pathology annual meeting, Denver, CO, June 4, 2002.

Invited Speaker: “A Genetic Polymorphism in Expression of Flavin-Containing Monooxygenase 2 in the Lung: Implications for Drug Metabolism”, The 2003 Robert S. Rozman Memorial Symposium, The Delaware Valley Drug Metabolism Discussion Group, Langhorne, PA, May 21, 2003.

Invited Speaker and Session Chair: “Potential of the Rainbow Trout Tumor Model in Cancer Risk Assessment”, Aquatic Animal Models of Human Disease Conference, Manassas, VA, September 29-October 2, 2003.

Invited Session Chair, “Mechanisms of Toxicity Gordon Conference”, Colby College, Waterville, Maine, July 23-28, 2006.

Invited Speaker, “Pharmacogenetics of Pulmonary Flavin-Containing Monooxygenase 2 (FMO2) in Humans”, 16th International Symposium on Microsomes and Drug Oxidations, Budapest, Hungary, September 3-7, 2006.

Invited Speaker, “Carcinogenicity of Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons”, 14th North American ISSX (International Society for the Study of Xenobiotics), Rio Grande, Puerto Rico, October 22-26, 2006.

Invited Speaker and Co-Chair, Symposium entitled “Recent Advances in our Understanding of the Flavin-Containing Monooxygenases: Role in Disease and Adverse Drug Reactions”, 2007 Experimental Biology, Washington D.C., April, 2007.

Invited Speaker, “The Maternal Diet of Mice Acts a Transplacental Cancer Chemoprotection Agent”, Diet and Optimum Health Conference, Portland, OR, May, 2007.

Organizing Committee and Invited Speaker, “4th Aquatic Animal Models of Human Disease Conference”, Duke University, January 31-February 3, 2008.

Invited Speaker, ASPET Symposium, “Targeting Drug Metabolizing Enzymes for Effective Chemopreventive Approaches”, April, 2009, New Orleans. Title of talk: “Chemoprevention of PAH transplacental cancer in a mouse model: role of Cyp1b1”.

Invited Speaker, ACS Symposium, Nutrigenomics: Food Components and Gene Interactions”, March, 22, 2010, San Francisco.

Invited Speaker, American Diabetes Association, Symposium on Pregnancy, Diet and Supplements- Needs and Concerns, “Epigenetics of Nutritionally Regulated Genes-Effects on the Fetus”, June 27, 2010, Orlando, Florida.

Organizing and Program Committee, “7th Internal Symposium on Biological Reactive Intermediates”, Barcelona, Spain, July, 2010.

Chair, Organizing Committee, “5th Aquatic Animal Models of Human Disease Conference”, Oregon State University, September, 2010.

Invited Speaker, “Maternal Dietary Supplements in Mice Provide Protection of Offspring against Adult Cancers”, Gulf Coast Society of Toxicology Annual Meeting, October 15, 2010, Houston, TX.

Chair, Planning Committee, NIEHS Superfund Research Program Annual Meeting, Portland, Oregon, November 10-12, 2010.

Invited speaker, “Studies on Cancer Chemoprevention”, Workshop on the Applications of Accelerator Mass Spectrometry in Biomedical and Clinical Research, NIH, June 21-22, 2011.

Invited Speaker, “The Importance of In Utero Versus Lactational Exposure in Lymphoma and Lung Cancer”, Gordon Research Conference, “Cellular and Molecular Mechanisms of Toxicity, August 8, 2011.

Member, Scientific Advisory Board, 17th North American ISSX Meeting, Atlanta, October, 2011.

Invited Speaker, “Transplacental Carcinogenesis due to Maternal Exposure to Individual PAHs and Environmental Mixtures: Impact of Dose, Timing of Exposure and Composition”, Society of Toxicology Workshop entitled “Novel Topics in Environmental Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbon Metabolism Leading to Carcinogenesis”, San Francisco, CA, March, 2012.

Invited Speaker, Pacific Northwest Association of Toxicologists, “Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs) as Transplacental Carcinogens”, Bothell, WA, September 19

Invited Symposium Speaker, National American Chemistry Society meeting, “Accelerator Mass Spectrometry (AMS) to Study ADME of Carcinogenic Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons Following Micro-Dosing in Humans”, Boston, MA, August 19, 2015.

Presentation, “PK Studies of Benzo[a]pyrene and Metabolites in Humans Utilizing Accelerator Mass Spectrometry”, W-3122 annual meeting, Portland, OR, October 6, 2016.

Invited Speaker, Linus Pauling Institute, Diet and Optimal Health Meeting, “Cancer Chemoprevention by Dietary Indoles” September 14, 2017, Oregon State University.

Invited Speaker, NIFA, Western States, W-4122 annual meeting, “Indole-3-Carbinol from Cruciferous Vegetables and Chemoprevention of Cancer from Dietary Ingestion of Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs)”, October 5, 2017, Calistoga, CA.