Rauscher's Monkey Massacre

In 1964, there was great excitement in the scientific world over the discovery of a new herpes-type virus, later called the Epstein-Barr virus, in the tumors of Burkitt's lymphoma patients. This was the impetus behind the establishment of the National Cancer Institute's Special Virus Leukemia Program, and of the experimental inoculation of hundreds of monkeys with material from human cancers. But this experiment came to an abrupt end with the killings of the monkeys, under dubious justification, which were ordered by Dr. Frank J. Rauscher.

"Approximately 700 primates mostly rhesus monkeys, but including animals of 9 species (cynomologous, African green, baboon, pig-tail macaque, Galago, Bonnet, marmosets, and chimpanzees), have been inoculated when newborn with specimens from human leukemia and lymphoma by investigators both at the National Cancer Institute and at other institutions collaborating in the Special Virus Leukemia Program of the National Cancer Institute (F.J. Rauscher and A.J. Pallotta, unpublished data). No neoplastic responses have been observed thus far. However, only about 220 of these animals are more than 1 year of age, and the oldest are only about 4 years old. If a leukemogenic agent is responsible for the age-peak which occurs at 3-4 years in human childhood leukemia, and if susceptible primates approach the human host in time-to-induction of disease, the primate animals would have to be observed for several additional years before their responses could be interpreted as definitely negative." (Virologic studies in human leukemia and lymphoma: The herpes-type viruses. FJ Rauscher, Jr. Cancer Res 1968 Jul;28:1311-1318.)

Exerpts from The New York Times, Monday Sep. 15, 1969, p. l-19: CANCER INSTITUTE TO KILL MONKEYS. Fund Shortage to Cause Death of 380 Animals. By Harold M. Schmeck Jr., Special to the New York Times.

"A major research program at the National Cancer Institute has been forced to order 380 valuable monkeys killed because of a shortage of funds. The monkeys are part of a research colony of about 1,400. When the 380 monkeys were born about five years ago, they were inoculated with material from human cancers suspected of being caused by viruses. The animals were to be kept alive for seven years while scientists studied them for any signs of cancer development. From what scientists know of cancer, they would not suspect malignancies to develop in any of the animals within five years. Thus, the monkeys are being killed just at the point at which they might have helped scientists to learn whether viruses cause cancer in humans.

"Dr. Frank J. Rauscher Jr., an associate scientific director of the institute and head of its cancer virus program, confirmed in a recent interview that he had ordered the cutback in the size of the monkey colony. He added that a shortage of funds had curtailed some current projects and had limited the program's ability to explore new fields.

"The multimillion-dollar search for human cancer viruses was started about five years ago with an initial grant of $10 million from Congress. Viruses are known to be the causes of many types of animal cancer and circumstantial evidence has suggested that this is also true of some cancers in humans.

"Dr. Rauscher said research in the last several years has all but erased suspicion about a group of viruses called adenoviruses, and has fixed it on other types, some of which were not suspected when the program began. Among these are viruses of the herpes type; they are related in structure and chemistry but are not identical to a virus that causes cold sores."

Ad-Hoc Committee On Tobacco and Smoking Research

Rauscher was Senior Vice President for Research of the American Cancer Society when it sponsored its "Meeting of Ad-Hoc Committee On Tobacco and Smoking Research" at the ACS headquarters in New York City on Nov. 10, 1977. Former Surgeon General Jesse Steinfeld (1969-73) was the Chairman of this assembly. Participants who made research and action reports included: President Carter's Special Assistant for Health, Peter Bourne; Allan K. Jonas, Chairman of the Tobacco and Health Committee of the ACS; J. Michael McGinnis, then Consultant to HEW Secretary Joseph Califano; William Pollin, Director of the Division of Research of the National Institute on Drug Abuse; Claude Lenfant, Director of the Division of Lung Diseases of the National Heart, Lung & Blood Institute; Andrew F. Hegyeli of the National Cancer Institute; Hod Ogden of the Centers for Disease Control; and Martin Fishbein, Professor of Psychology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Other participants included Donald T. Fredrickson, Gio B. Gori, Ernst Wynder of the American Health Foundation, former Surgeon General Luther Terry, and Victor Weingarten.

Ad-Hoc Committee On Tobacco and Smoking Research, 1977 / UCSF (pdf, 4 pp)

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cast 11-30-03