Discovering the connection between diet and cancer is a fish tale of international significance. In the 1960s, AES toxicologist Russell Sinnhuber determined that a potent chemical carcinogen, aflatoxin, caused liver cancer in hatchery-reared rainbow trout, in levels as low as 1 part per billion. He recognized that the trout’s extreme sensitivity to aflatoxin made it an excellent model for cancer research. In 1965, he established the lab that would eventually carry his name, and the Sinnhuber Aquatic Research Laboratory remains the only trout hatchery in the world devoted to cancer research.
Recently, the laboratory has added a zebrafish facility to conduct biomedical research on many diseases including cancer, fetal alcohol syndrome, and nicotine addiction. The tiny fish are transparent during development, mature rapidly, and share about 80 percent of their genes with humans. This allows scientists to run many tests in a short time on a huge number of subjects.