Sorell Schwartz

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

Sorell L. Schwartz is a Professor Emeritus of Pharmacology in the Department of Pharmacology, Georgetown University Medical Center. He holds a PhD in pharmacology. He was a full time member of the Georgetown University School of Medicine faculty from 1968 until 1998, where he served as Professor of Pharmacology and Director of the Toxicology and Applied Pharmacokinetics program. Since 1998 he has been Professor Emeritus of Pharmacology and is currently director of the joint Georgetown University-Virginia Tech master's program in Biomedical Technology Development and Management. His current work is in adverse drug reactions, biomodeling, and protection of human research subjects.

In the middle 1980's, Dr. Schwartz chaired a group of tobacco industry-supported academic consultants called the Indoor Air Pollution Advisory Group (IAPAG)[1]; he also organized a database of published scientific research papers that was used by the IAPAG members in preparing testimony on the environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) issue before legislative and administrative bodies.[2][3]


He received a Ph.D. in Pharmacology at the Medical College of Virginia in 1963. He served in the U.S. Navy, assigned to the U.S. Naval Medical Research Institute.

As a graduate student (1959-63), he studied the mammalian metabolism of nicotine on which he wrote is doctoral thesis. This work was supported via a tobacco industry grant to his mentor., Herbert McKennis, Jr., a pioneer in the elucidation of nicotine metabolic pathways. The earliest reference to Dr. Schwartz in the tobacco archives is for a study on the metabolism of cotinine in the rat (presented at the Virginia Academy of Sciences in 1961). Decades later, cotinine, the major initial metabolite of nicotine, began to be used as a biomarker of nicotine absorption. He continued publish on nicotine metabolism through 1964, his work focusing on the the mammalian degradation of the alkaloid's pyrrolidine ring,

In September 1968, he was appointed Associate Professor of Pharmacology at Georgetown University Medical Center. From 1969 through 1976, he studied the interaction of nicotine with macrophages under grants from the American Medical Association, Education and Research Foundation Committee for Research on Tobacco and Health. The AMA-ERF Committee for Research on Tobacco and Health was an independently administered ten-year project funded by the tobacco industry. His published work under this grant reported on the suppressant effects of nicotine on macrophage function. It was suggested that this effect could be responsible for the increased susceptibility of smokers to infections. In the 1980's Dr. Schwartz turned his attention to physiologically-based pharmacokinetic (PBPK) modeling. He later published a PBPK model of nicotine and cotinine in humans, work done under a tobacco industry grant.

Tobacco industry involvement

In 1984, under Tobacco Institute sponsorship, Dr, Schwartz organized a group of academic consultants into the Indoor Air Pollution Advisory Group (IAPAG) to evaluate and comment on the scientific data concerning Environmental Tobacco Smoke, or ETS. As part of that task, members of IAPAG were asked by the Institute to testify at legislative and administrative hearings concerning ETS-related legislation, which they did for a period of time, during which they proffered their independent views that ETS was part of a larger problem of indoor air pollution. These views were used by the Institute to support its policy to broaden the ETS issue beyond tobacco smoke. [4][5] A database of published scientific literature relevant to the ETS issue was also organized to assist IAPAG members in their evaluations of the environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) issue before legislative and administrative bodies.[6][7]

In June, 1986 Schwartz organized an accredited continuing medical education program at Georgetown called "Health Effects of Environmental Tobacco Smoke on the Non-Smoker." It was to be jointly sponsored by the Georgetown University Medical Center and the American College of Toxicology, and funded in large part by the tobacco industry. A few speakers withdrew after being contacted by a National Institutes of Health official, claiming they did not have knowledge of the tobacco industry support. The American Lung Association protested to the University about sponsorship of a tobacco industry-funded seminar and urged cancellation. The University refused, based on academic freedom grounds, and noted that the topic was an important emerging health issue. Nonetheless, Dr. Schwartz canceled the program. The Tobacco Institute asked Dr. Schwartz and Georgetown to join it in a public claim that anti-smoking forces were attempting to censor scientific research and opinion. Both refused. Thereafter, John Rupp, of the Tobacco Institute's legal firm Covington & Burling issued a long statement, independent of Georgetown, alleging censorship attempts by the ALA.[8] The statement claimed that The ALA's actions were "a direct threat to scientific integrity" and an "an attempt to stifle free speech and academic freedom."

After three years, Dr. Schwartz dissolved IAPAG in response the Tobacco Institute's pressure for the group to be more advocative. The Tobacco Institute then established a separate "Scientific Witness Team" comprised of non-academic private consultants. [9][10]

Role in Dept. Of Justice Lawsuit

In 2004, Dr. Schwartz testified in the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) lawsuit against tobacco companies that for three years beginning in 1984 he testified on behalf of the Tobacco Institute at administrative and legislative hearings as to the IAPAG views on the health effects of ETS exposure, but quit in 1987 because pressure from the Tobacco Institute (TI) to "take a more advocative position" with regards to the industry's stand on the lack of health hazards presented by ETS exposure. He also described how he learned that certain international conferences held prior to his involvement, and the published reports from which IAPAG had, in part, relied upon for its assessments, had been covertly organized and funded by the tobacco industry. He also testified that he did research on physiologically-based pharmacokinetic modeling of nicotine and nicotine metabolites under an industry grant to Georgetown.[11][12]


  1. Kloepfer B, Tobacco Institute Resource Evaluation Memorandum. January 29, 1987. Bates No. TIDN0016871/6874
  2. Sorell Schwartz, Center for Environmental Health and Human Toxicology IAPAG Meeting Memorandum. December 27, 1987. Tobacco Institute Bates No. TI00650692
  3. Center for Environmental Health and Human Toxicology Environmental Tobacco Smoke Project 871101 - 871130 Invoice/pay request. January 9, 1988. Philip Morris Bates No. 2023553385/3388
  4. Stuntz S., Tobacco Institute. Ventilation Testimony Memorandum. July 5, 1985. Bates No. TIDN0013592. Esp. see note in marginalia.
  5. Project Brass
  6. Sorell Schwartz, Center for Environmental Health and Human Toxicology IAPAG Meeting Memorandum. December 27, 1987. Tobacco Institute Bates No. TI00650692
  7. Center for Environmental Health and Human Toxicology Environmental Tobacco Smoke Project 871101 - 871130 Invoice/pay request. January 9, 1988. Philip Morris Bates No. 2023553385/3388
  8. Rupp JP, Covington & Burling Statement of John P. RuppDecember 11, 1986. Philip Morris Bates No. 2023551472/1475
  9. Stapf F.Memo on broadening our attack on ETS front. Memo. January 9, 1987. Tobacco Institute Bates No. TITX0038048/8049]
  10. Email from S. Schwartz to Anne Landman, January 7, 2008, as seen on discussion page
  11. Heavey, S.; "US professor says pressured to be tobacco advocate," Reuters, October 26, 2004.
  12. Trial testimony of Sorell Lee Schwartz, Ph.D., November 1, 2004, United States of America v. Philip Morris USA, Inc. November 1, 2004. DATTA Collection Bates No. SCHWARTZS110104

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