May 17, 2001

The Honorable Fred Thompson
521 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510

Dear Senator Thompson:

It is a cardinal rule of scientific research to avoid at all costs any conflict of interest that could influence the objectivity of one's findings. This rule takes on added significance in the context of biomedical and public health research, for peoples' lives are at stake.

For more than a decade, John Graham, Director of the Center for Risk Analysis at the Harvard School of Public Health and candidate for the position of Director, Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs at the Office of Management and Budget, has repeatedly violated this rule. Time and again, Professor Graham has accepted money from industries while conducting research and policy studies on public health regulations in which those same industries had substantial vested interests. Not surprisingly, he has consistently produced reports, submitted testimony to the Congress, and made statements to the media that have supported industry positions, frequently without disclosing the sources of his funding.

For example:

We, the undersigned, faculty members at schools of medicine and public health across the United States, go to great pains to avoid criticizing a colleague in public. Indeed, in most circumstances we would rejoice over the nomination of a fellow public health professional for a senior position in a presidential administration. Yet, in examining the record of John Graham, we are forced to conclude that there is such a persistent pattern of conflict of interest, of obscuring and minimizing dangers to human health with questionable cost-benefit analyses, and of hostility to governmental regulation in general that he should not be confirmed for the job of Director of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. This position, critical to the setting of health, safety, and environmental regulatory policies that affect the lives of all Americans, demands an individual whose objectivity is beyond question.

Signed *

Eric Chivian M.D.
Director, Center for Health and the Global Environment
Harvard Medical School
Shared 1985 Nobel Peace Prize

Philip J. Landrigan M.D., MSc
Professor and Chairman
Department of Community and Preventive Medicine
Director, Center for Children's Health and the Environment
Mount Sinai School of Medicine

Lynn R. Goldman M.D., MPH
Professor of Environmental Health Sciences
Johns Hopkins University
Former Assistant Administrator
Environmental Protection Agency

Herbert L. Needleman M.D.
Professor of Psychiatry and Pediatrics
University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine

Linda Rosenstock M.D., MPH
Dean, School of Public Health
UCLA
Former Director, National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health

Robert S. Lawrence, MD
Edyth H. Schoenrich Professor of Preventive Medicine, Professor of Health Policy,
and Professor of Environmental Health Science
Associate Dean for Professional
Education and Programs
Director, Center for a Livable Future
Bloomberg School of Public Health,
Johns Hopkins University

David Ozonoff M.D., MPH
Professor and Chair
Department of Environmental Health
Boston University School of Public Health

Howard Frumkin M.D., Dr.P.H.
Professor and Chair
Department of Environmental and Occupational Health
Rollins School of Public Health
Emory University

Anthony Robbins M.D.
Professor and Chair
Department of Family Medicine and Community Health
Tufts University School of Medicine
Former Director, National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health

Philip R. Lee M.D.
Senior Scholar, Institute for Health Policy Studies
Professor of Social Medicine, Emeritus
Former Chancellor
University of California at San Francisco
Former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Health

Barry S. Levy, M.D., M.P.H.
Adjunct Professor of Community Health
Tufts University School of Medicine,
Past President, American Public Health Association

Mark R. Cullen M.D.
Professor of Medicine and Public Health
Yale University School of Medicine

Duncan C. Thomas Ph.D.
Professor and Director, Biostatistics Division
Department of Preventive Medicine
University of Southern California

David C. Christiani M.D. MPH
Professor of Occupational Medicine and Epidemiology
Harvard School of Public Health
Professor of Medicine
Harvard Medical School

* titles and affiliations are for identification purposes only


James M. Robins M.D.
Professor of Epidemiology and Biostatistics
Harvard School of Public Health

Richard Levins PhD, MPH
John Rock Professor of Population Sciences
Harvard School of Public Health

Daniel A. Goodenough Ph.D.
Takeda Professor of Cell Biology
Harvard Medical School

Alexander Leaf M.D.
Jackson Professor of Clinical Medicine, Emeritus
Harvard Medical School

David H. Bor M.D.
Associate Professor of Medicine
Harvard Medical School
Chief of Medicine, Cambridge Hospital

David U. Himmelstein, M.D.
Associate Professor of Medicine
Harvard Medical School

Steffie Woolhandler, M.D., MPH
Associate Professor of Medicine
Harvard Medical School

Paul R. Epstein M.D., MPH
Associate Director, Center for Health and the Global Environment
Harvard Medical School

Michael McCally M.D., Ph.D.
Professor of Community and Preventive Medicine
Mount Sinai School of Medicine

Peter Orris, M.D., MPH
Professor of Internal and Preventive Medicine
Rush Medical College
Director of the Occupational Health Services Institute
University of Illinois School of Public Health

John M. Peters, M.D.
Hastings Professor of Preventive Medicine
Division of Occupational and Environmental Health
University of Southern California School of Medicine

John Wargo Ph.D.
Professor of Environmental Studies
Yale University

Richard W. Clapp, MPH, D.Sc.
Associate Professor of Public Health
Boston University School of Public Health

Mervyn Susser M.D., MPH
Sergievsky Professor of Epidemiology Emeritus
Mailman School of Public Health
Columbia University

Rob McConnell, M.D.
Associate Professor of Preventive Medicine
University of Southern California Medical School

Al Franzblau, M.D.
Associate Professor of Occupational
and Environmental Medicine
Director, Occupational and
Environmental Medicine Program
University of Michigan School of Public Health

Robin M. Whyatt, Dr.P.H.
Assistant Professor of Clinical Public Health
Mailman School of Public Health
Columbia University

Joyce C. Lashof M.D.
Professor of Public Health, Emeritus
University of California at Berkeley
School of Public Health


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