Past Directors

Dr. OberleyLarry W. Oberley Ph.D.

Larry W. Oberley Ph.D. was Director of the Free Radical and Radiation Biology Program at The University of Iowa from September 1998-January 2008.  He earned his B.A. in 1968 from Northwestern University, Evanston, IL, his M.S. in 1970 and then his Ph.D. in 1974 from The University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA.  

Dr. Oberley’s research interests focused on the role of reactive oxygen species, reactive nitrogen species, and antioxidants in human diseases, especially cardiovascular diseases, neurodegenerative diseases, cancer, and aging.  Larry’s main interest was in the fundamental biology of free radicals and antioxidants, especially antioxidant enzymes.  He uses molecular biology to modulate antioxidant proteins and then studied the biological consequences.  He used this approach to demonstrate that the mitochondrial antioxidant protein manganese superoxide dismutase (MnSOD) is a tumor suppressor gene.  His most recent project was to determine how overexpression of this protein could be used in the treatment of cancer. 

Example Publications

Oberley, L.W., and Buettner, G.R., Role of superoxide dismutase in cancer: a review, Cancer Res., 39:1141-1149 (1979).  PMID: 217531
Bize, I.B., Oberley, L.W., and Morris, H.P. Superoxide dismutase and superoxide radical in the Morris hepatomas. Cancer Res. 40(10):3686-3693, 1980. PMID: 6254638 
Wong, G.H.W., Elwell, J.H., Oberley, L.W., Goeddel, D.V. Manganous superoxide dismutase is essential for resistance to tumor necrosis factor killing. Cell 58:923-931, 1989.
Weydert CJ, Waugh TA, Ritchie JM, Iyer KS, Smith JL, Li L, Spitz DR, Oberley LW. Overexpression of manganese or copper-zinc superoxide dismutase inhibits breast cancer growth. Free Radic Biol Med. 41(2):226-37, 2006. PMID: 16814103   
Zimmerman MC, Oberley LW, Flanagan SW. Mutant SOD1-induced neuronal toxicity is mediated by increased mitochondrial superoxide levels. J Neurochem. 102(3):609-18, 2007. PMID: 17394531  
Zhang Y, Smith BJ, Oberley LW. Enzymatic activity is necessary for the tumor-suppressive effects of MnSOD. Antioxidants and Redox Signaling 8(7-8):1283-93, 2006. PMID: 16910776    
Kaewpila S, Venkataraman S, Buettner GR, Oberley LW. Manganese superoxide dismutase modulates hypoxia-inducible factor-1 alpha induction via superoxide. Cancer Res: 68(8): 2781-2788, 2008. PMID: 18413745 

Honors, Awards and Organizations

Lifetime Achievement Award, Society for Free Radical Biology and Medicine, 2004  [

Cover, Cancer Research 60(15), May 15, 2000  [Make link to picture] [ make link to cover story]    

Citation Classic selection by the Institute for Scientific Information, the publishers of Current Contents for: Oberley LW and Buettner GR (1979) The role of superoxide dismutase in cancer: A review. Cancer Research 39:1141-1149.  PMID: 217531   [ Link to Commentary ]  

Citation Classic selection by the Institute for Scientific Information, the publishers of Current Contents for: Buettner GR, Oberley LW, and Leuthauser SWHC. (1978) The effect of iron on the distribution of superoxide and hydroxyl radicals as seen by spin trapping and on the superoxide dismutase assay. Photochem Photobiol 28:693-695. PMID:216030       [ Link to Commentary

Citation Classic selection by the Institute for Scientific Information, the publishers of Current Contents for: Buettner GR and Oberley LW. (1978) Considerations in the spin trapping of superoxide and hydroxyl radicals in aqueous systems using 5,5-dimethyl-1-pyrroline-1-oxide. Biochem Biophys Res Commun 83:64-74.  PMID:212052     [ Link to Commentary ]


Michael E.C. Robbins Ph.D.

Michael E.C. Robbins, Ph.D. served as Director of Research for the Free Radical and Radiation Biology Program at The University of Iowa from 1993-2001.  He earned his B.Sc. Hons. in 1976 from Thames Polytechnic, London, United Kingdom and his Ph.D. in 1980 from Thames Polytechnic, London, United Kingdom.  

He joined the Program as an Associate Professor in 1993 and advanced to the rank of Professor in 2000.  In 2001 he was appointed Professor and Section Head, Radiation Biology, Department of Radiation Oncology and Department of Cancer Biology, Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, NC.  There he continues his research on radiation-induced brain injury; Peroxisomal Proliferator-Activated Receptor (PPAR) α and PPARg agonists; and the brain renin-angiotensin system (RAS). 

Publications via PubMed 

Web Page at Wake Forest University School of Medicine 



Bill OsborneJames William Osborne Ph.D.

James William Osborne was Director of the Radiation Research Laboratory and graduate program in Radiation Biology from 1975-1993. From 1993-1998 he served as Director of the program that had been named the Free Radical and Radiation Biology Program.

Osborne received B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, Illinois. His majors were chemistry and physiology with an emphasis in radiation biology. He joined the laboratory in Iowa City as an Assistant Professor in 1955 and advanced to the rank of Professor in 1967.

Osborne mentored a large number of Ph.D. and M.S. degree students. His interests and theirs were focused on responses of the mammalian small and large intestine to ionizing radiation, hyperthermia, and various chemical modifiers of radiation injury. These studies included normal intestinal cell kinetics and the study of radiation-induced carcinogenesis in the small bowel of small mammals.

Osborne has been an active member of the History Committee of the Radiation Research Society (RRS) since 1983 and served three years on the RRS Council. These activities and others led to the receipt in 2001 of the Distinguished Service Award of the RRS.


Titus CarrTitus Carr Evans Ph.D.

Titus Carr Evans Ph.D. was Director of the Radiation Research Laboratory at The University of Iowa from 1948-1975. He earned the B.A. degree at Baylor University and M.S. and Ph.D. Degrees in the Zoology Department of The University of Iowa (UI). 

He later held Assistant Professorships at Texas A & M, UI, and at Columbia University in New York City. While at Columbia, he was a biologist on the Manhattan Project. 

Dr. Evans became Professor and Head of the newly formed Radiation Research Laboratory (RRL) at the UI in January, 1948. His responsibilities included supervision of radiation protection procedures on campus, development of nuclear medicine procedures, and the conduct of radiobiological and cancer research.

In 1961, he and the RRL faculty were given permission to develop an M.S./ Ph.D. program in radiation biology that Evans headed until his untimely death in 1975.  

Dr. Evans’ career in radiation research spanned 42 years and a number of his publications are considered classics. He was among the world’s first radiation biologists.

Ph.D. and M.S. graduates of the degree program honored Dr. Evans and his career by participating in a “Symposium on Radiation Biology, Cellular Dynamics, and Cancer” during May 23-25, 1974.

In addition to his many other activities, Evans was Editor-in-Chief of the first 50 volumes of the journal, Radiation Research.  He served as host in 1953 for the first meeting of the Radiation Research Society.  

Example Publications: 

Evans, T.C. (1972)  Editorial: Fifty Volumes of Radiation Research.  Radiation Research, 50(3): pp. v-xvi.    

Cheng HF, Peterson RE, Evans TC. (1969) Incorporation of Se-selenomethionine in human peripheral lymphocytes as an in vitro test of globulin-synthesizing capacity. J Nucl Med. 10(2):63-7.  PMID: 5784708  

Song CW, Evans TC. (1968) Effect of whole-body x-irradiation on thyroid function in the mouse. Radiat Res. 33(3):480-9.  PMID: 5640788