George Bailey, widely recognized toxicologist and cancer expert, dies at 73


George Bailey (photo by Tom Gentle)

George Bailey, a distinguished professor emeritus in the OSU Department of Environmental and Molecular Toxicology, and an international expert on carcinogenesis and cancer prevention through dietary agents, died Oct. 20 following a serious illness. He was 73.

Bailey, also a principal investigator with the Linus Pauling Institute at OSU, did pioneering work on aflatoxins, a common cause of liver cancer that kills millions of people in China and Africa. He has studied chlorophyll as an inexpensive way to reduce DNA damage caused by aflatoxins, and also indole-3-carbinol for the prevention of breast cancer.

On Nov. 12, Bailey will be honored posthumously with the Discovery Award by the Medical Research Foundation of the Oregon Health & Science University. The award, made to a leading medical researcher in Oregon, recognizes an investigator who has made significant, original contributions to health-related research. In their citation, the organization noted that Bailey’s research “has the potential to dramatically limit colon and liver cancer rates in many regions of the world.”


The Linus Pauling Institute is establishing a George Bailey Graduate Student Fellowship in Cancer Research, with a goal of raising $250,000 to endow the fellowship. Anyone interested in contributing may contact the OSU Foundation.

“The students who receive this fellowship will be doubly inspired,” said Balz Frei, the LPI director and Joan H. Facey Linus Pauling Institute Professor, “by those who have invested in their future, and by George’s deep commitment to education, improved health, and rigorous scientific study.”

As a toxicologist, Bailey helped develop the use of rainbow trout in biomedical research to study carcinogens and cancer. Serving for 17 years as director of OSU’s Marine and Freshwater Biomedical Sciences Center, he used trout to help revolutionize the study of cancer risk, especially the dose level of carcinogens that can ultimately lead to cancer.

“Dr. Bailey retired from OSU after decades of outstanding research, instructional and service contributions to OSU,” said Craig Marcus, professor and head of the Department of Environmental and Molecular Toxicology. “His productive career focused on understanding of the mechanisms of chemical carcinogenesis, its modulation by dietary and environmental factors, and the development of cancer preventive agents.”

Bailey received his doctorate from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1969, and has been on the OSU faculty for 35 years. In his career he published more than 150 papers in scientific journals and won several awards, including the prestigious Prince Hitachi Prize in Comparative Oncology in 2001.

~ David Stauth

3 Responses to “George Bailey, widely recognized toxicologist and cancer expert, dies at 73”

  1. Arend Kootstra says:

    Good Bye George,

    I was one of his PhD student at Otago University. He allowed me to learn lots from my own mistakes and helped me to establish the complete primary structure of Histone H2B. A wonderful person from whom I learned to be dogged, patient and thorough.

    It determined my own research direction in life and develop that creative and imaginative aspect. As well as to deal with the political aspects of research and managing complex issues and structures.

    He was a fine fellow and mentor. Arend Kootstra PhD

  2. Ron Riley says:

    I knew George Bailey for many years. He was a great scientist and a wonderful person. He was a lot of fun to drink a bottle of good red wine with and had a great sense of humor. He was one of those scientists that was never afraid to share his latest research findings with everyone. He loved his family and had a full and exciting life outside of his work. He was a true renaissance man! He will be missed.

  3. George was my mentor at OSU, but also my life mentor, as we remained very close personal friends since my grad school days. His legacy will also live on through my students, his scientific “grandchildren.” He was a giant presence in my life. One of the nicest compliments I ever received was from a colleague of George’s, who after hearing me speak at a scientific conference, remarked that George’s influence was evident in my work, and that he could hear echoes of George’s voice in mine. Yours was a wonderful life, George Bailey.