Freddy Homburger

"Dr. Homburger, a native of Switzerland, went to the Sloan-Kettering Institute in December, 1945, as a research and teaching fellow and is the first member of the Institute's staff to receive a professorial appointment in cancer research. He received his medical degree in Switzerland and before joining the Sloan-Kettering staff held fellowships at Yale and Harvard Medical Schools." Homburger was head of the department of clinical investigation at Sloan-Kettering before going to Tufts to head its cancer research program. (Heads cancer research at Tufts Medical School. New York Times, Aug. 29, 1948.) He asked for $10 million to be given to the FDA "to protect Americans from cancer-causing agents in their food, drugs and cosmetics" at a hearing of the House Subcommittee on Health Appropriations. (Hill funds asked for cancer study. By Nate Haseltine, staff reporter. Washington Post, Times Herald Apr. 21, 1961); and also at a Senate Appropriations subcommittee (Cancer research of U.S. criticized. By John W. Finney. New York Times, Jun. 16, 1961.) "Costly research financed entirely by the tobacco industry has confirmed long-challenged reports that cigarette smoking can produce products that induce skin cancers in mice... The research was instituted, Dr. Homburger said, because a variety of scientists had reported they could not duplicate the results reported in 1958 by Dr. Ernest Wynder, now of Sloan-Kettering Institute for Cancer Research." This was reported at a scientific session at the 46th annual meeting of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology. (Tobacco industry study finds cancer agent. By Nate Haseltine, staff reporter. Washington Post, Times Herald, Apr. 18, 1962.) "Several thousand genetically rare inbred Syrian golden hamsters at the Bioresearch Institute were destroyed or let loose by vandals 6 to 11 years old in a weekend raid." The Fannie E. Rippel Foundation of Newark, NJ gave the Institute $50,000 "to permit work on new inbred lines of hamsters with inherited hypertensive heart disease and on other lines that have certain rare advantages for tests of cancer-causing chemicals." (Grant of $50,000 aids vandalized laboratory. AP. New York Times, Jun. 4, 1970.)

The Minnesota Tobacco Trial

The anti-smokers claim that Freddy Homburger was denied funding from the CTR, and that a press conference he called was cancelled because his results were adverse to the tobacco industry. But Homburger's testimony in the Broin airline ETS trial reveals a different story, and also his links to Mary Lasker's group.

CC Little's opposition to hamsters versus mice

Homburger's friendship with CTR director and mouse breeder CC Little went back to 1948, and was both professional and personal. The Homburgers built a house in Maine with Little's assistance. Homburger testified that Little's "basic interest at the time when he started this job with CTR was to develop an animal system that could test the effect of inhalation of smoke." But when mice were shown to be unsuitable and hamsters proposed instead, "that is when the trouble started with the CTR." (Homburger's responses to questions by attorney Billy R. Randles of Shook, Hardy & Bacon, Broin, May 27, 1997, p. 19.)

Homburger deposition, Broin 1997 / UCSF (pdf, 148 pp)

The terminology dispute

Asked about various members of the CTR Science Advisory Board, Homburger said: "Sheldon Sommers, he's a pathologist who was at Boston University and then became a pathologist of the Council for Tobacco Research. Sheldon I respected when he was at B.U., and I knew him as a teacher and a researcher in some ways; but when he began working with the Council, he became totally subjective, and it was he who wanted us to change the terminology of the lesions we found in hamsters, and I had very little respect for him." (Broin, May 27, 1997, p28.)

The National Institutes of Health refused to fund Homburger

When the NIH refused to give him a grant for inhalation studies with Syrian hamsters, Homburger was asked, "Did they tell you why not?" He replied, "Yes, they told us it was a lousy appplication, and I should write better applications and fewer letters to politicians." This suggests that the Lasker Syndicate was punishing him for talking to politicians on his own. (Broin, May 27, 1997, pp 64-65.)

The cancelled press conference (the Zahn memo)

Leonard Zahn's memo to Henry Ramm and Tom Hoyt, telling them how he got Freddy Homburger's press conference cancelled.

The Zahn Memo, April 22, 1974 / UCSF (pdf, 3 pp)

In Homburger's questioning by attorney Billy R. Randles of Shook, Hardy & Bacon, in Broin, May 27, 1997, concerning the cancellation of Homburger's press conference, Homburger denied that he had intended to accuse the CTR of suppressing information.

Q. At the -- we talked about this earlier. At the April 8, 1974, American Federation of Pathology meeting, you presented a paper summarizing your animal inhalation experiments, didn't you?

A. Yes.

Q. And also prepared and left for anyone who wanted to pick it up a press release regarding your research, right?

A. Yes.

Q. Now, you also tried to schedule a press conference, didn't you?

A. I didn't schedule it. The organizers of the meeting did.

Q. The organizers scheduled it?

A. Yes. It was a custom that when somebody presented something new in the conference, there would be a press conference afterwards; and I was told to go to a certain room, and when I went to that room, there was nobody there. I didn't pay any attention at that time, and it wasn't until the Cipollone case that the lawyer Edell, E-d-e-l-l, found a letter from a public relations person of the Council about the research gloating about the fact that they had sabotaged my press conference.

Q. Is it your testimony that you didn't know the press conference was cancelled while you were there?

A. I had no idea.

Q. I'd like to show you a document -- MR. RANDLES: Mark this Exhibit 9 for identification. (Document marked Homburger Exhibit 9 for identification)

Q. This is a document -- I know you've seen it before -- a memorandum from Leonard Zahn.

A. That's the one.

Q. This is the one Mr. Edell showed you, correct?

A. Yes.

Q. And you testified regarding this during the Cipollone case, didn't you?

A. Yes.

Q. I want you to feel free to read any and all of this you'd like to, but I'm going to ask you a series of questions about what this document says. All right?

A. Yes.

Q. Now, it says in the second paragraph, Mr. Zahn reports, "The afternoon of my arrival, I learned that Judy Graves, public information officer for the American Society of Experimental Pathology (ASEP), that an unlisted press conference had been scheduled for Homburger for 12 noon on Monday." Do you know what he meant by an unlisted press conference?

A. No.

Q. Who was Judy Graves?

A. I have no idea.

Q. You don't know her?

A. (Witness shakes his head)

Q. Mr. Zahn goes on to say, "He was to have a news release with him and was to tell the press that the tobacco industry was attempting to suppress important scientific information about the harmful effects of smoking. He was going to point specifically at CTR."

Is that accurate; is that what you had planned to do?

A. No. I was just going to report what I had said in the paper, and you have seen the abstract.

Q. Oh, you weren't going to say anything about CTR trying to stop you from publishing or anything like that?

A. No, I wasn't going to.

Q. Where do you think Mr. Zahn got that idea?

A. Well, he's crazy.

Q. You never had any conversations with him about it?

A. I have never met Mr. Zahn, to my knowledge.

Q. Okay.

A. Is this a woman, Zahn?

Q. Leonard Zahn.

A. Oh, Leonard.

Q. I'd like you to turn to the second page of this and the paragraph at the top of the page, and in the last sentence it reads "She" talking about Judy, "called back later that evening to say she had done so, telling Homburger the press conference had been called off because of scheduling difficulties." Let me go to the sentence above that. "I suggested to Judy that she called him then (Sunday) at home and arrange to meet him at his hotel. She called back later to say that she had done so, telling Homburger the press conference had been called off."

Did Ms. Graves ever call you?

A. No. I don't recall any of this. I told you the story as I recall it. I walked to the room for the press conference. There was nobody there. And I didn't pay any attention; I thought it was just a slipup.

Q. So if Mr. Zahn is accurately writing down here what Ms. Graves told him, she was wrong when she said she called you?

A. Absolutely.

Q. All right.

A. "I doubt if you or Tom will want to retain this note." I think that's an interesting afterthought.

MR. KLUGMAN [of Debevoise & Plimpton for the CTR]: Object and move to strike. Not responsive to anything that I heard.

Homburger deposition, Broin 1997 [pp. 111-115] / UCSF (pdf, 148 pp)

Further questioning of Homburger by Steven Klugman of Debevoise & Plimpton for the CTR:

Q. Let me ask you to take a look at Exhibit 9, Dr. Homburger. That's the April 22, 1974, memorandum from Mr. Zahn. Do you recall that? You testified about it a few minutes ago.

A. Yes, Mr. Edell gave it to me.

Q. I just want to make sure I'm clear. Is it your testimony that Mr. Zahn was wrong when he stated that Ms. Graves called you back to say that she had called off your press conference?

MS. SCHNEIDER: Objection. Asked and answered.

A. Yes, that's definitely not correct.

Q. Let me ask you to take a look at the portion on Page 1 of that memorandum which Mr. Randles also showed to you, and the last -- the second paragraph, when it says that, "He," and that's you, Dr. Homberger, "was to have a news release with him and was to tell the press that the tobacco industry was attempting to suppress important information about the harmful effects of smoking. He was going to point specifically at CTR." Is that also wrong?

A. Yes.

Q. Is there anything in this memorandum that you know is correct?

A. No.

Q. It may be all wrong, as far as you know?

A. I certainly didn't see it that way. I was just going to a room where there was a press conference supposed to be held, and nobody was there.

Q. And the purpose of your press conference was to report your scientific results?

A. Yes.

Q. And you did report your scientific results at that meeting?

A. I did that in the talk I gave before the press conference was to be held.

Q. And you showed slides at that meeting?

A. I showed slides.

Q. And...

A. It was the usual ten-minute paper.

Q. And you said that you found microinvasive carcinomas?

A. Yes.

Homburger deposition, Broin 1997 [p. 131] / UCSF (pdf, 148 pp)

Homburger's Lasker connections

Homburger corresponded with Mary Lasker from 1948 to 1959, and with Florence Mahoney from 1960 to 1976. In his deposition for the Broin airline ETS trial in 1997, he testified: "I lobbied for money for the Public Health Service with Mary Lasker's group long before I was familiar with the ways in which to influence this legislation and this funding," and complained that his independent efforts were "to no avail." Homburger wanted the government agencies as well as the CTR to use his Syrian golden hamsters instead of mice for inhalation studies, but they also refused to do so. He trotted out the old canard about supposed suppression of "safer cigarette" research, which is really just another pretext for generating propaganda about chemical carcinogens while ignoring infection. His criticism of the government gave the Lasker Syndicate a motive to want to shut him up.

Q. So let me see if I'm clear on what you did. You applied for funding with the government to do hamster inhalation work?

A. Yes.

Q. And they turned you down?

A. Yes.

Q. You then lobbied a number of influential politicians and people in the Public Health Service to try to get this sort of work started, didn't you?

A. Yes.

Q. And they all told you no, didn't they?

A. They didn't do anything.

Q. They didn't do anything.

Why do you think they didn't do anything?

A. Because of the tobacco interests. I mean, this is by now very obvious that the tobacco means big money, not only for politicians but for a whole living of whole states is based on tobacco income.

Q. Let me see if I understand your testimony. Are you saying that you believe that the Tobacco Working Group, the National Cancer Institute, the Public Health Service and the U.S. Congress were all in a conspiracy with the tobacco industry to shut down this area of research?

MS. SCHNEIDER: I object to the form.

A. I wouldn't call it a conspiracy, but it just happened to go in that direction.

Q. Well, it just happened, or was someone trying to make it go in that direction?

A. Well, you know that as well as I do. Maybe better.

Q. Well, since I was about 13 years old when this happened, I really don't.

Unfortunately, just when it's getting interesting, Philip Morris/Lorillard attorney Billy R. Randles of Shook, Hardy & Bacon calls a break, and they have lost momentum when they resume.

Homburger deposition, Broin 1997 [pp. 103-107] / UCSF (pdf, 148 pp)

Leonard Zahn's testimony about the press conference

Zahn claimed that "the person in charge of press relations for a pathology organization, association, at which he was going to make these claims told me he had called her, and this is what he -- or she had called him; I don't remember which, and that this is what he was going to say, and could he have a press conference to make these charges." Zahn was asked, "Did you investigate these charges to determine whether or not they were true?" Zahn claimed that "Several weeks prior to the date of this meeting, I got copies of correspondence between -- as I recall, mostly between Dr. Hockett and Dr. Homburger about a paper Dr. Homburger was proposing to give at this pathology meeting," and said that he had talked to Hockett.

Zahn deposition, Massachusetts vs. Philip Morris et al., 1998 [p. 182] / UCSF (pdf, 304 pp)

Robert C. Hockett was the Associate Director of the CTR, who joined it as CC Little's assistant only a few months after its formation as the TIRC. He is noted for his extensive involvement with the industry lawyers, giving them unofficial directions on who would be a good witness and other details. It sounds as if Zahn was set up by Hockett and Graves to do a dirty job from which the Lasker Syndicate would benefit while he and the tobacco industry got the blame.

The Bio-Research Institute

Bernard J. Reis, the longtime treasurer of the Lasker Foundation, was also the treasurer of Homburger's Bio-Research Institute, Inc., during 1964-66.

Bio-Research Institute, 1964 / UCSF (pdf, 5 pp)

The text of the 1966 Annual Report was written by John Langone, former Medical Science Writer of the Boston Herald. Foundation support came from the ACS, AHA, the John A. Hartford Foundation, the Life Insurance Medical Research Fund, the Virginia and D.K. Ludwig Foundation, the Charles E. Merrill Trust, the Muscular Dystrophy Association of America, the National Science Foundation, the Science and Arts Foundation, the Council for Tobacco Research, USA, and the U.S. Public Health Service.

Bio-Research Institute 1966 Annual Report / UCSF (pdf, 30 pp)

Homburger's Studies

Pulmonary Histopathology of Hamsters Exposed to Smoke. Paper presented at Society of Toxicology Meeting, New York, March 18-22, 1973. F. Homburger, A.B. Russfield, P. Bernfeld. They claimed that inbred Syrian hamsters exposed to passive smoke developed "neoplastic changes in respiratory epithelium of the larynx" and "malignant nasopharyngeal tumors." [However, in humans, human papillomaviruses cause laryngeal cancer, and Epstein-Barr virus causes nasopharyngeal carcinomas. And this information truly has been concealed - by the anti-smokers - in order to falsely blame tobacco.]

Homburger, 1973 / UCSF (pdf, 5 pp)

Strain Differences in the Response of Inbred Syrian Hamsters to Cigarette Smoke Inhalation. P. Bernfeld, F. Homburger, and A.B. Russfield. J Natl Cancer Inst 1974 Oct;53(4):1141-1157.

Bernfeld - JNCI 1974 / UCSF (pdf, 18)

Absence of Carcinogenic Effects of Chronic Feeding of Snuff in Inbred Syrian Hamsters. F Homburger, S-S Hsueh, AB Russfield, CW Laird, CG Van Dongen. Toxicol Appl Pharmacol 1976;35:515-521.

Homburger, 1976 / UCSF (pdf, 7 pp)

Skin Painting Techniques and In Vivo Carcinogenesis Assays. Editor, F. Homburger. Workshops on Skin Painting and in vivo Carcinogenesis Bioassay, Arlington, Va. Nov. 3-4, 1981. Prog Exp Tumor Res 1983;26(C). Skin Painting Studies in Syrian Hamsters. P Bernfeld, F Homburger, pp. 128-153.

Homburger, 1983 / UCSF (pdf, 29 pp)

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cast 05-27-15