REMEMBERING DR. SUGIURA
October 22  marked the tenth anniversary of the death of Dr. Kanematsu Sugiura. Born in Japan in 1892, Sugiura came to the United States as a boy. He lived with the Harriman family's physician and in 1912 became one of the first U.S. cancer researchers. From November 1, 1917 until his death over sixty years later Sugiura was associated with Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. Although he retired in 1962 he continued to do research every day at Sloan-Kettering's Walker Laboratory in Rye, New York.
Sugiura was not just a fine scientist but an outstanding human being. When he was given the unconventional drug laetrile for testing he did so with skill and honesty. When laetrile, contrary to all expectations, turned out to stop the spread of metastases in mice, Sugiura refused to alter his conclusions, despite pressure to do so.
"I write what I see," he said repeatedly. "Laetrile is not a cure for cancer, but a good palliative drug."
With great courage, he publicly supported the underground newspaper Second Opinion, when it went public with these results in 1977. "Your critical review of my positive results and negative results of three investigators at Sloan-Kettering Institute is very well done and accurate," he wrote. "Please accept my sincere congratulations."
In an age when some scientists turn first to the business page to see how their stocks are doing, Sugiurašs simple honesty and unwavering dedication shine like a beacon.