Microbiological Associates

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This article is part of the Tobacco portal on Sourcewatch funded from 2006 - 2009 by the American Legacy Foundation.

Microbiological Associates is a research lab in Bethesda, Maryland. The Council for Tobacco Research (CTR) contracted with this lab to do the world's largest smoke inhalation study, involving more than 10,000 mice, in 1973-1982.


The Council for Tobacco Research contracted with Microbiological Associates to do the world's largest inhalation study, involving more than 10,000 mice in 1973-1982. The CTR spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in a quest to develop the perfect smoking machine, one that prevented mice from either holding their breath or overdosing on carbon monoxide. According to Dr. Carol Henry, Microbiological Associates' director of inhalation toxicology, the lab initially had considerable freedom, but after nine years of work and $12 million, the team was told in 1982 that it could no longer meet with CTR staffers unless a lawyer was present.(Wall Street Journal, 2/11/93). Dr. Henry said that was unacceptable, but a CTR research lawyer told her that is the way it is. Microbiological Associates knuckled under under the pressure, believing that if the contract was canceled before the first experiment was completed, 40 staffers might lose their jobs and nine years' worth of data would never come to light.(WSJ 2/11/93).

In the first experiment, in which mice inhaled the equivalent of five cigarettes a day, five days a week, for 110 weeks, 19 out 978 mice got cancer, versus seven out of 651 controls. However, the tumors were not squamous-cell carcinomas, the kind usually seen in human lung cancer, and there was a 10% possibility the results were due to chance, whereas scientists prefer no more that 5% (WSJ 2/11/93). Even so, Dr. Henry says the study built a very strong case that cigarettes can induce cancer in animals.(WSJ 2/11/93)

This was to be the first of several experiments, but CTR lawyers told Microbiological Associates the project was cancelled. Per Dr. Henry, when a contract is cancelled given these kinds of results, reasonable scientists might conclude the liability issue must have suddenly become apparent to this group.(WSJ 2/11/93) Per CTR's former associate scientific director, Dr. Kreisher, Council for Tobacco Research lawyers worried like hell about the project.(WSJ 2/11/93)

In 1984, the CTR issued a news release noting the absence of squamous-cell lung cancer in the study.(WSJ 2/11/93)

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