Dr. Kanematsu Sugiura (Bio)

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1. Kanematsu Sugiura, DSc – Honors and accolades

The is an excerpt from Ralph Moss’ new book & companion guide to this documentary entitled DOCTORED RESULTS. 

Sugiura received many honors. In 1925, the Kyoto Imperial University awarded Sugiura an honorary Doctor of Science (DSc) degree. In that same year he received the Leonard Prize of the Roentgen Society for his work on radiation biology. In 1953, he became a naturalized American citizen. In 1960 the Japanese government honored him for his cultural services and in the same year Emperor Hirohito awarded him membership in the Order of the Sacred Treasure, Third Class. In 1965, the Japan Medical Association presented him with its highest award for outstanding contributions to cancer research and “for his services an inspiration to so many Japanese physicians and surgeons.” In 1966, New York City Mayor John V. Lindsay and the New York County Medical Society recognized him for his cultural services and his dedication to the field of medicine. In June 1973 his photograph appeared on the cover of Cancer Research.

The first of his 250 PubMed-indexed papers and book chapters appeared in 1922 (other non-PubMed papers had appeared earlier).82 His last paper was published in the Japanese cancer journal, Gann, in 1978. His career thus spanned the entire history of chemotherapy, and his work touched on all the chief areas of research and progress. He was particularly interested, said Hutchison, in “the development of new animal tumor models,” the very topic that would come to the fore in the laetrile debate.

He was a consummate teacher of young experimentalists. It was in recognition of this activity that a photograph of him teaching graduate students was featured on the cover of Bristol-Myers Squibb’s A Century of Oncology, A Photographic History of Cancer Research.

In 1962 Sugiura formally retired and became Member Emeritus. In 1965 Stock helped gather Sugiura’s papers into a four-volume Collected Works. In words that would come back to haunt him, Stock summed up the world’s scientific opinion:

“Few, if any, names in cancer research are as widely known as Kanematsu Sugiura’s… Possibly the high regard in which his work is held, is best characterized by a comment made to me by a visiting investigator in cancer research from Russia. He said, ‘When Dr. Sugiura publishes, we know we don’t have to repeat the study, for we would obtain the same results he has reported’.”

Sugiura had lived a long and full life, been honored by his peers, and was respected in both his adopted and his native lands. By every indication, he would end his life as peacefully as he had lived it, content with his half-page niche in the official National Cancer Institute-sponsored history of cancer research.

Yet at age 80, Sugiura found himself in the center of a furious controversy. Because he had done what he was told, and recorded what he saw, he lived to see old friends desert him, a close relative fail to support him, and former colleagues question his sanity and competence. What Sugiura did was agree, in the summer of 1972, to test laetrile in spontaneously occurring animal tumors.

In assessing Sugiura’s role in the laetrile controversy one must answer the question of whether a person who had loyally served his profession, institution and adopted country for 60 years, who had retired honorably with a good pension and whose entire social circle consisted of members of that institute, would suddenly seek to embarrass all his friends, relatives and colleagues by radically misrepresenting his own findings?

This was of course absurd.

As we seek for any possible source of pro-laetrile bias, we should remember that it was SKI officials (such as Old and Stock) who asked him to conduct the laetrile experiments in question…he did not volunteer, having shown no prior interest in the topic. Sugiura undertook this job with the same craftsman-like diligence that he undertook any task to which he had been assigned. And had the topic not been laetrile it is doubtful that his findings would have generated the slightest controversy at all.

Ralph Moss Explains Meeting Dr. Sugiura”

(The is an excerpt from Ralph Moss’ new book & companion guide to this documentary entitled DOCTORED RESULTS. 

Since I had the privilege of knowing Sugiura, I will first tell how I came to know him. I first met Sugiura in the summer of 1974. New to the job, I was looking for promising topics to write about for our monthly publication, Center News. (It still exists as a bimonthly online magazine.) Jerry suggested that I go to the Walker Laboratory in Rye, NY, to troll for story ideas.

The Walker Lab had been built in 1958-1959 on the grounds a huge estate on the Boston Post Road. Its construction was part of a $12 million gift from the stockbroker Donald Stone Walker and was dedicated to the study of chemotherapy in test tubes, fertilized eggs and animals (up too and including sharks). At the time of its dedication the director of NCI’s chemotherapy service described the Walker facility as “the finest in the world.”

A station wagon left the old Kettering Laboratory on East 68th Street every workday morning for the half hour trip to Rye; it returned every afternoon at 3 pm.

I rode up with C. Chester Stock, head of the Walker facility, who had arranged for us to have lunch with some of the leading figures there. Among these was an elderly Japanese-American scientist, Kanematsu Sugiura, who sat upright throughout, dressed rather formally in a white lab coat over shirt and tie. He had a pleasant but almost mask-like demeanor and seemed polite, modest and self-contained.

Although he wrote English elegantly—as evidenced by hundreds of scientific papers—he spoke with a Japanese accent, and I sometimes had to strain to understand him. Like many older people, he was also slightly hard of hearing. Stock and others at the Walker Lab seemed to have a genuine affection for their older colleague.

Stock and Sugiura had appeared together (along with the SKI Director Cornelius P. “Dusty” Rhoads) on the cover of the June 1973 issue of Cancer Research. This was a keystone achievement, of greater importance for most scientists than being on the cover of Time (as Ewing, Rhoads and Good had been). When Sugiura retired in 1962, Stock assembled his papers into a fourvolume set, and also wrote a glowing introduction to this work. (A copy of this work was later deposited in a shrine in Sugiura’s hometown in Japan.)

Dr. Sugiura’s Obituary Published in CANCER RESEARCH

Click here to read Dr. Kanematsu Sugiura’s obituary summarizing his life and his important contribution to cancer research.