Oliver Hankinson

UCLA Path & Lab Med
BOX 951732, 10833 Le Conte Ave, 13-244 Factor Bldg
Los Angeles, CA 90095

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Position Titles

Distinguished Research Professor, Department of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine, and Department of Environmental Health Sciences
Chair, Molecular Toxicology Interdepartmental Doctoral Program


Oliver Hankinson graduated summa cum laude with a B.Sc. in Genetics from Edinburgh University, Scotland. He then taught high school in Tanzania as a member of Voluntary Service Overseas (the British equivalent of Peace Corps). He received his Ph.D. in Genetics from Cambridge University in England, and subsequently did postdoctoral research at Harvard (supported by a fellowship from the Leukemia Society of America), the University of Colorado, and the University of California, Berkeley. He then joined the faculty of the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). He previously served as Director of the Viral and Chemical Carcinogenesis Program Area of the UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, and Vice Chair for Research in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine. He is currently a Distinguished Research Professor. He was founding chair of the Molecular Toxicology interdepartmental doctoral program, and continues to serve in this role.


Oliver Hankinson pursues research on the Aryl Hydrocarbon Receptor (AHR), a cellular protein that (among other things) mediates the carcinogenic, and other toxic effects of a variety of chemical pollutants, including dioxin, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and PCBs (found in smog, cigarettes smoke and overcooked foods). His contributions in this area include the identification, cloning and functional characterization of ARNT. ARNT was the first subunit of the AHR to be cloned, and represented the first mammalian representative of a new class of transcription factor – the bHLH-PAS (basic helix-loop-helix Per-Arnt-Sim) class. Subsequently, the Nobel prizes in Medicine in 2017 and in 2019 were awarded to studies on bHLH-PAS transcription factors. His current research also focuses on the how dietary omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (found in fatty fish) inhibit the growth and metastasis of breast cancer, and on identifying individuals who are particularly responsive to the protective effects of these nutrients.

Awards and Honors

His honors include the 1990-1991 Distinguished Lecturship of the Associated Western Universities/Department of Energy, the 2011 Distinguished Toxicology Award and the 2019 Education Award from the Society of Toxicology. In 2013 he was elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.


A selected list of publications: