TOP CANCER SCIENTIST KILLED BY CHEMICALS
Friday April 24,2009
FIVE emergency workers and the wife of a leading cancer researcher were rushed to hospital after the scientist killed himself using highly toxic chemicals.
Dr Thomas Friedberg, 59, was found at the wheel of his Peugeot car parked outside his home by his wife Veronica around 6pm on Wednesday.
Mrs Friedberg tried to revive her husband and called the emergency services, but he was pronounced dead at the scene.
The eminent scientist and father of three, who worked at Dundee University’s Medical Research Institute, based at Ninewells Hospital, is understood to have committed suicide.
Police and two ambulance crews raced to the small cul de sac in Blairgowrie, Perthshire, and found unidentified chemicals inside the car.
Officers set up a cordon sealing off the street while specialist firefighters dealt with the chemicals.
Former teacher Mrs Friedberg, and three police officers and two ambulance staff who first arrived at the scene, were taken to Ninewells Hospital for precautionary checks, but were released without treatment.
Tayside Police are understood to be investigating whether the scientist had used chemicals from his own laboratory to commit suicide. Other unidentified chemicals were found inside his house.
Neighbour Roy Farquharson, 53, a ski-lift operator at Glenshee, said: “The street was full of police, with at least ten police cars and two vans as well as a fire engine and ambulance. The whole area was cordoned off.
“I understand the car had a phenomenal amount of chemicals inside. Whoever got there first would have taken one look inside and got back at great speed. It would seem he’s made sure he didn’t survive it.” Dr Friedman had three children, Aidan, Douglas and Iona. The family were last night unavailable for comment.
A Tayside Police spokeswoman said there were no suspicious circumstances, and a report would be submitted to the procurator fiscal.
She added: “We are trying to establish exactly what chemicals were there.”
Dr Friedberg’s colleagues yesterday paid tribute to him as an eminent scientist who made an “exceptional contribution” in his field, and as a “warm and kind” colleague. The respected researcher spearheaded breakthroughs on how proteins cause, and hinder, the treatment of breast and lung cancer.
Professor Martin Pippard, Dean of Dundee University’s School of Medicine, said: “We are deeply saddened by news of Dr Friedberg’s death.
“He had made many important contributions in the field of cancer research, particularly in drug development and toxicology.
“He was a much respected and loved colleague of many in the School of Medicine and across the university.
“Our thoughts are with his family.”
Professor Roland Wolf, director of the Biomedical Research Institute, where Dr Friedberg worked, said: “Thomas was a warm, kind and much loved member of the Biomedical Research Institute.
“He made an exceptional contribution to the research programme of the Institute and will be greatly missed.”
The death comes a fortnight after Paul Dolan, 24, from Coldstream, in the Borders, died in his car after being exposed to a toxic chemical used for vermin control.
Police and ambulance crews had to be showered clean in the middle of the A1 road after trying to save the suicide victim in a layby at Cocklawburn beach, near Berwick-upon-Tweed, on April 6.