COMO YOU KNOW: Frederick vom Saal

Sunday, February 5, 2012 | 3:00 a.m. CST; updated 8:48 p.m. CDT, Friday, May 9, 2014

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Frederick vom Saal

Division of Biological Sciences, MU

105 Lefevre Hall

Columbia, MO 65211


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Frederick S. vom Saal is the Curators’ Professor of Biological Sciences at MU.

Full text

Vom Saal is known for his work studying the effects of extremely low doses of natural and synthetic hormones on the body. His research has suggested that certain hormones in amounts so small they are generally dismissed by toxicologists are in fact dangerous, compared to the levels they naturally occur. Forefront among these in his research is Bisphenol A (BPA), the chemical basis for polycarbonate plastics widely used in domestic products from store receipts to food containers to baby bottles.

Vom Saal’s research showed lab mice exposed to  low levels of BPA can suffer from a range of ill-effects including prostate enlargement, breast cancer, low sperm count, early-onset diabetes, obesity, premature adolescence and hyperactivity.

He has appeared before the Food and Drug Administration in Washington, D.C., to testify on the effects of BPA especially on infant development.

Vom Saal’s work has been disputed by several major chemical concerns, including Dow Chemical, which have funded contradicting research. Vom Saal claims Dow Chemical had attempted to suppress publication of his research.

He has discussed his work with Bisphenol A on programs such as PBS’s Frontline, ABC’s 20/20 and Fox News.

Vom Saal was born Jan. 17, 1945. He attended New York University, earning a bachelor's degree in psychobiology in 1969. He earned his master's degree. and Ph.d. in neurobiology from Rutgers University in 1974 and 1976, respectively.

Vom Saal and his wife, Kathi, have one daughter. He is a licensed pilot.

Links and sources

This is a transcript of his "Frontline" interview from February 1998.

A 2008 Riverfront Times article about his research.

A biography of Vom Saal on the Mizzou Alumni Association's website. 

His biography page on the MU department of biology's website.

Updated: Feb. 5, 2012

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