Photo of Peter S. Spencer, Ph.D., F.A.N.A., FRCPath

Peter S. Spencer Ph.D., F.A.N.A., FRCPath

Founding Director (1988-2009) of the Center for Research on Occupational and Environmental Toxicology, which was renamed Oregon Institute of Occupational Health Sciences, Dr. Spencer specializes in neurotoxicology, occupational and environmental neurology, and in global health. He has received continuous federal research grant support for >45 years.

Additional information

Symposium to Recognize Lifetime Research Contributions of P.S. Spencer. The 1997 Arkansas Toxicology Symposium on Neurodegenerative Disease: Chemicals, Drugs, and Diet, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in collaboration with the US Food and Drug Administration National Center for Toxicology Research.

Television Documentaries Featuring Research of P.S. Spencer.

The Island of the Colour Blind, internationally aired television documentary and accompanying text by Oliver Sacks, 1996.

The Poison That Waits, internationally aired television documentary, British Broadcasting Corporation, 1988.

The Illness and the Odyssey, international aired television documentary, Berry Minott Productions, 2013.

Enconium for P.S. Spencer, Bolon, B. Perspectives on Past Practices and Future Trends in Toxicologic Neuropathology: Notes from a Keynote Address by Dr. Peter S. Spencer. Toxicologic Pathology 39:15-18, 2011.

Other International Recognition

Anon. Global Health in Changing Environments. International Innovation: Disseminating Science, Research and Technology (Healthcare) 10: 58-61, 2011.

Anon. Brain Degeneration, Cancer Connections. International Innovation: Global Health, July 2014.

Areas of interest

  • Molecular mechanisms and adverse effects of neurotoxic chemicals
  • Etiology and prevention of neurological and neurodegenerative diseases
  • International health research on disease clusters


  • B.Sc., University of London, Faculty of Science (Zoology, Physiology, Biochemistry), London United Kingdom 1968
  • Ph.D., University of London, Faculty of Medicine (Pathology), London United Kingdom 1972
  • Internship:

    • Postdoctoral, 1972-74. Albert Einstein College of Medicine (Neuroscience)
  • Fellowship:

    • 1975-76. Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. National Fellow in the Neurosciences

Honors and awards

  • 2018. Opening Keynote Lecturer, International Turkish Neurology Congress, Antalya, Turkey
  • 2018. Plenary Lecturer, International Conf. on Prevention of Neurodegenerative Diseases, Shenzhen CDC
  • 2017. Keynote Lecturer, The Belt and Road Initiative Global Health International Congress & 2017 Chinese Preventive Medicine Assn. - Chinese Society on Global Health Annual Meeting, Xi’an, China
  • 2015. Edward Jenner Research Award in Neurotoxicology
  • 2013. Honorary Professor of Neuroscience, Gulu University, Republic of Uganda
  • 2013. Keynote Lecturer, Jacob Hooisma, International Neurotoxicology Association, The Netherlands
  • 2012. Keynote Lecturer, International Congress on Neurology and Epidemiology, Nice, France
  • 2010. Keynote Lecturer, Annual Meeting, Society of Toxicologic Pathology and International Federation of Societies of Toxicologic Pathologists, Chicago
  • 2006. Honorary Professor, Shanxi Medical University, Taiyuan, P.R. China
  • 2005. Alice B. Hamilton Lecturer, University of California San Francisco School of Medicine
  • 2005. Honorary Professor, Sichuan University, Chengdu, P.R. China
  • 2005. Honorary Member, Indian Academy of Neurosciences, India
  • 2004. President, Pacific Northwest Society of Toxicology
  • 2004. Honorary Professor, Guangxi Medical University, Nanning, P. R. China
  • 2004. George H. Germann Memorial Lecturer, American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, San Antonio
  • 2004. Advisory Professor, Jiangsu University, Zhenjiang, P.R. China
  • 2003. Sitlington Lecturer in Toxicology, College of Veterinary Medicine, Oklahoma State University
  • 2003. Privileged Professor, Fudan University, Shanghai, P.R. China
  • 2003. Distinguished Service Award, African Society of Toxicological Sciences
  • 2003. Sibte Hasan Zaidi Oration, Lucknow, India
  • 2002. Distinguished Scientist Award in Neurotoxicology, Society of Toxicology.
  • 1998. Alzheimer’s Association Brumback Research Award (outstanding achievement in research)
  • 1997. Snider Foundation Award, Arkansas (for contributions in toxicology)
  • 1994. Director’s Research Award, Portland Veteran Affairs Medical Center
  • 1993. Sylvio O. Conte Award for Environmental Health Science.
  • 1990. Ellerman Lecturer, Swiss Association of Neuropathology
  • 1988. Kugelberg Lecturer, University of Stockholm, Sweden
  • 1988. Hänninen Lecturer, Pan American Health Organization
  • 1987. Honorary Professor, Chinese Academy of Preventive Medicine, Beijing, China (later renamed Chinese Center for Disease and Prevention, Beijing, P.R. China
  • 1987. Tarbox Distinguished Neuroscience Lecturer, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, Texas
  • 1987. Sterling Visiting Professor, Albany Medical College, New York
  • 1986. Ellerman Lecturer, University of Bern, Switzerland
  • 1976. Co-recipient, Moore Award, American Association of Neuropathologists
  • 1975. Recipient, Weil Award, American Association of Neuropathologists
  • 1975. Co-recipient of President's Prize, Canadian Society of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons
  • 1975-76. Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. National Fellow in the Neurosciences

Memberships and associations

  • African Society for Toxicological Sciences
  • American Association of Neuropathologists
  • American Public Health Association
  • American Society for Cell Biology
  • American Association for the Advancement of Science
  • American Neurological Association
  • European Association of Neurology
  • Peripheral Nerve Society
  • Physicians for Social Responsibility
  • Royal College of Pathologists
  • Royal Society of Medicine
  • Society for Neuroscience
  • Society of Neuroscientists of Africa
  • Society of Toxicology and the Specialty Section on Neurotoxicology
  • Sunderland Society
  • World Federation of Neurology


Selected publications

  • Spencer, P.S., and Schaumburg, H.H. Experimental and Clinical Neurotoxicology, 2nd ed., Oxford, New York, 2000 (1310 pages).

  • Spencer, P.S., Palmer, V.S., Kisby, G.E. Seeking environmental causes of neurodegenerative disease and envisioning primary prevention. NeuroToxicology, 2016, Volume 56: 269-283

  • Spencer, P.S., Mazumder, R, Palmer, V.S., Lasarev, M.R., Environmental, dietary and case-control study of Nodding Syndrome in Uganda: A post-measles brain disorder triggered by malnutrition? J Neurol Sci. 2016 Oct 15;369:191-203. doi: 10.1016/j.jns.2016.08.023.

  • Yu, H., Lin, X., Wang, D., Zhang, Z., Guo, Y., Ren, X., Xu, B., Yuan, J., Liu, J., Spencer, P., Wang, J-Z., and Yang, X. Mitochondrial molecular abnormalities revealed by proteomic analysis of hippocampal organelles of mice triple transgenic for Alzheimer disease. Frontiers in Molecular Neuroscience 11:74, 2018. doi: 10.3389/fnmol.2018.00074

  • Valdes, R.A., Suits, A., Palmer, V.S., Okot, C., Okot, R.A., Atonywalo, C., Kitara, D.L., Gazda, S.K., Lantum, M., and Spencer, P.S. Real-time surveillance of Nodding syndrome in remote regions using lay village mHealth reporters. PLoS One Neglected Tropical Disease, Jun 15;12(6):e0006588. doi: 10.1371/journal.pntd.0006588. eCollection 2018 Jun. See also

  • Spencer, P.S. Hypothesis: Etiologic and molecular mechanistic leads for sporadic neurodegenerative diseases based on experience with Western Pacific ALS/PDC. Frontiers in Neurology 2019 Jul 31;10:754. doi: 10.3389/fneur.2019.00754

  • Spencer, P.S., Lagrange, E., Camuc, W. ALS and environment: Clues from spatial clustering? Revue Neurologique. 2019 175:652-663

  • Palmer, V.S., Tshala-Katumbay, D.D., Spencer, P.S. Plants with neurotoxic potential in undernourished subjects. Revue Neurologique. 2019 175:631-640.

  • Reis, J., Romn, G.C., Giroud, M., Palmer, V.S., Spencer, P.S. Medical management, prevention and mitigation of environmental risks factors in Neurology. Revue Neurologique (Paris) 175:698-704, 2019.

  • Spencer, P.S. Neuroprotein targets of gamma-diketone metabolites of aliphatic and aromatic solvents. Toxicologic Pathology, in press.


  • ""SPANISH OIL" NOT NEUROTOXIC IN RATS" The Lancet December 4 1982
  • "The guam cycad toxin methylazoxymethanol damages neuronal DNA and modulates Tau mRNA expression and excitotoxicity" Experimental Neurology January 1999
  • "Potential role of environmental genotoxic agents in diabetes mellitus and neurodegenerative diseases" Biochemical Pharmacology June 28 1996
  • "Studies on the control of myelinogenesis. IV. Neuronal induction of Schwann cell myelin-specific protein synthesis during nerve fiber regeneration" Journal of Neuroscience  1982
  • "Environmental Neurotoxins Linked to a Prototypical Neurodegenerative Disease"  February 3 2015
  • "Studies on the biochemical basis of distal axonopathies. I. Inhibition of glycolysis by neurotoxic hexacarbon compounds" Journal of Neurochemistry  1979
  • "How does acrylamide perturb axon transport and induce nerve fiber degeneration? Commentary on forum position paper." NeuroToxicology July 2002
  • "Regulation of myelination" Journal of Neuroscience Research  1985
  • "An ultrastructural study of the inner core of the Pacinian corpuscle" Journal of Neurocytology June 1973
  • "Parkinsonism and cancer" JAMA Neurology  2013
  • "Spontaneous Schwann cell remyelination of spinal cord plaques in rats orally treated with sodium dichloroacetate" American Journal of Psychotherapy  1982
  • "Stereospecific acute neuronotoxicity of 'uncommon' plant amino acids linked to human motor-system diseases" Brain Research May 5 1987
  • "β-N-Methylamino-l-alanine in the presence of bicarbonate is an agonist at non-N-methyl-d-aspartate-type receptors" Neuroscience  1993
  • "Neurotoxic properties of musk ambrette" Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology September 30 1984
  • "Sodium cyanate alters glutathione homeostasis in rodent brain" Brain Research February 27 1999
  • "Neurotoxic cycad components and Western Pacific ALS/PDC" Annals of Neurology December 2010
  • "Isolation and partial characterization of plasmalemma from quiescent Schwann cells in denervated cat sciatic nerve" Journal of Neurochemistry  1983
  • "Interrelationships of undernutrition and neurotoxicity" NeuroToxicology June 2012
  • "Back pain-related absenteeism" Journal of Agricultural Safety and Health  1999
  • "Nodding syndrome" African Health Sciences  2013
  • "Symptoms of gulf war veterans possibly exposed to organophosphate chemical warfare agents at Khamisiyah, Iraq" International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health April 2001
  • "Slow toxins, biologic markers, and long-latency neurodegenerative disease in the western Pacific region" Neurology  1991
  • "A single intravenous injection of doxorubicin (Adriamycin®) induces sensory neuronopathy in rats" NeuroToxicology  1980
  • "Single doses of acrylamide reduce retrograde transport velocity" Journal of Neurochemistry  1984
  • "Lathyrus sativus (grass pea) and its neurotoxin ODAP" Phytochemistry January 2006
  • "Nervous system degeneration produced by acrylamide monomer" Environmental Health Perspectives  1975
  • "Ultrastructural studies of the dying-back process II. The sequestration and removal by Schwann cells and oligodendrocytes of organelles from normal and diseased axons" Journal of Neurocytology December 1974
  • "Demyelinating disease produced by the fragrance compound acetyl ethyl tetramethyl tetralin" Annals of Neurology  1978
  • "Tropical spastic paraparesis" Annals of Neurology  1985

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