Douglas Spitz, PhD

Carver College of Medicine Profile

Dr. Spitz is a well-established investigator whose laboratory has made many significant contributions to the field of oxidative stress in cancer biology and toxicology. His laboratory was the first to discover that chronic exposure of mammalian cells to O2•- and H2O2 was capable of inducing genomic instability and gene amplification that resulted in a large increases in cellular resistance to oxidative stress associated with cancer therapy. His laboratory was also the first to discover that glucose deprivation preferentially killed cancer vs. normal cells by metabolic oxidative stress mediated by mitochondrial O2•-and H2O2. In this work his lab also showed that tumor cell mitochondria were producing much greater levels of O2•- and H2O2, relative to normal cells and this apparent defect in cancer cell mitochondrial metabolism could be exploited for therapeutic purposes. This work continues to have a significant impact on the field of cancer biology and therapy and Dr. Spitz’s group has received R21 support from the NCI to initiate clinical trials using ketogenic diets to enhance cancer therapy based on these basic science observations as well as having funded and pending grant applications using these principles to improve cancer therapy outcomes using redox active small molecules.

His laboratory has also been involved with collaborative studies leading to the discovery of the role of oxidized CaMKII in cardiovascular disease. He has also collaborated on the discovery of the role that Sirt3 plays in maintenance of mitochondrial oxidative metabolism during stress leading to malignant transformation and the fact that MnSOD is a target for Sirt3 activation during ionizing radiation-induced injury relevant to transformation and normal tissue damage during radiotherapy.

Dr. Spitz is also a well-established mentor for trainees and junior faculty studying Redox Biology and Medicine. He served as the director of the Free Radical and Radiation Biology Program at the University of Iowa from 2008 to 2023 and is currently the director of the Free Radical Metabolism and Imaging Program and the Radiation and Free Radical Research Core Laboratory in the Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center. He is the PI of an NCI funded T32 Training Program in Free Radical and Radiation Biology, as well as NCI K, F, RO1 and R21 grants.

Full Publication listing: Google Scholar | National Library of Medicine

Douglas Spitz CV
Research areas
  • Primary Faculty