Faculty Profile: David L. Eaton, Ph.D.
Dr. Eaton is currently Associate Vice Provost for Research at the University of Washington. He holds faculty appointments at the UW as Professor of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences, Professor of Public Health Genetics, and Adjunct Professor of Medicinal Chemistry. He currently serves as Director of the UW/NIEHS Center for Ecogenetics and Environmental Health, and also directs a large, multi-investigator consortium/Center grant from the NIEHS in the area of Toxicogenomics. Dr. Eaton's research interests focus on understanding how subtle genetic differences between individuals, and species, can result in potentially large differences in susceptibility to chemical carcinogens. Using standard molecular and biochemical approaches, Dr. Eaton's laboratory has identified the molecular basis for large species and interindividual differences in the susceptibility to a common food contaminant, aflatoxin B1. Further studies have evaluated the relative ability of humans to both activate and detoxify aflatoxin and other carcinogens, with an emphasis on understanding how genetic polymorphism in the genes involved in activation and detoxification of carcinogens influence cancer risk. Because the level of expression of most of these genes is ‘inducible’ by chemicals in the diet, Dr. Eaton has also been studying whether common ‘phytochemicals’ (plant-derived, biologically active substances) found in the diet can alter the way biotransformation enzymes are expressed in human liver cells. Such result may help explain the apparent ‘anti-cancer’ effects of fruits and vegetables in the diet. Dr. Eaton received his Ph.D. in Pharmacology / Toxicology from the University of Kansas Medical Center in 1978 and has been at the UW since then. He is active in the field of toxicology, and has served as President of the Society of Toxicology, the largest organization of professional toxicologists in the world. He has published over 100 peer-reviewed research articles and 50+ review articles and book chapters. He recently co-edited the first textbook in the field of Ecogenetics, titled “Gene-Environment Interactions: Fundamentals of Ecogenetics”.