Harvard Center for Risk Analysis

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

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This article is part of the Center for Media & Democracy's spotlight on front groups and corporate spin.

The Harvard Center for Risk Analysis (HCRA) was founded by John D. Graham and specialises in advocating forms of risk-assessment widely criticised by community groups. The Center gained funds from both industry and government agencies.


Harvard Center for Risk Analysis
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HCRA (Doc Index)

According to the Center's website the three main program areas are:

  • Food safety and agriculture: a program to “assess safety risks to the American food supply. A main goal of the program is the education of legislators, community leaders, corporate officials and journalists about the importance of risk analysis in the promotion of a safe food supply.” [1]
  • Environment: “Citizens often support stronger environmental policies hoping to reduce or eliminate risks to human or ecological health. But growing scientific evidence indicates that some current environmental policies aren't directed at the most significant sources of risk. The effect of such policies may be to misallocate resources that could improve public and environmental health if those resources were directed toward larger risks. The mission of the Program on Environmental Science and Risk Management is to promote more informed decision making about environmental protection through greater use of analytic tools such as risk assessment, decision analysis, cost-effectiveness analysis and benefit-cost analysis”. [2]
  • The economic evaluation of medical technology: part of this program is to “promote reasoned policies for the evaluation and use of medical technologies … The Program is currently involved in a number of policy activities, including: developing standards in the use of cost-effectiveness analysis, evaluating the FDA's regulation of drug manufacturers' cost-effectiveness claims, and understanding ways in which public and private payers can become more critical consumers of economic evaluations.” [3]

HCRA not only analyses risk but, in conjunction with allied institutions, also runs courses on 'risk communication". "Learn how to more effectively communicate about risk issues with various audiences, and how to incorporate risk communication into the strategic operation of your organization. A combination of expert instruction, class participation, and real-world examples of successes and failures in risk communication will give you an understanding of the theoretical and practical issues involved," promotional material for a May 2003 seminar stated. The course program Directors were George M. Gray, David P. Ropeik and Ragnar L?edt. [4]

Another couse scheduled for April 2002, HCRA and their co-hosts promised that those attending the two and a half day long "Risk Communication Challenge" course would "learn the underlying psychology of how people 'decide' what to be afraid of and how afraid to be. You will learn how to select and craft key messages, how to deliver those messages, and how to work with the media to get your message out". The Risk Communication Challenge

In November 2003, HCRA flagged they would broaden the range of issues it works on and increase its international focus. "One of my objectives is for HCRA to contribute critical thinking to the management of a broader range of public-health risks, including post-9/11 terrorism, the development of drug-resistant strains of bacteria, and the emergence of new threats like BSE (mad cow disease) and SARS. … Increasingly, we are helping to address health risks outside the United States, including HIV/AIDS in Africa, air pollution in Mexico and China, and the effects of war in Kuwait.

As well as extending collaboration with other Harvard university staff, the media release announced that HCRA hoped to recruit new staff in the fields of “behavioral decision making, cognition, risk perception and communication. Experts in these fields will help us better understand how the public perceives and manages health risks and what interventions can be most beneficial. [5]

The following month, the Harvard School of Public Health also announced the staff change adding that an example of a current HCRA project is a study of mercury levels in swordfish. “Should people stop eating swordfish or limit their consumption, as pregnant women are advised to do? Should mercury sources be placed under stricter government control? What if the sources turn out to be natural ones, such as eroding rocks? This balance between risk and benefit, between warnings and advice, is the focus of HCRA,’ the release stated. [6]

Documents Contained at the Anti-Environmental Archives
Documents written by or referencing this person or organization are contained in the Anti-Environmental Archive, launched by Greenpeace on Earth Day, 2015. The archive contains 3,500 documents, some 27,000 pages, covering 350 organizations and individuals. The current archive includes mainly documents collected in the late 1980s through the early 2000s by The Clearinghouse on Environmental Advocacy and Research (CLEAR), an organization that tracked the rise of the so called "Wise Use" movement in the 1990s during the Clinton presidency. Access the index to the Anti-Environmental Archives here.

HCRA and Big Tobacco

The public release of millions of pages of internal tobacco industry documents following the settlement of legal action, has shed light on how HCRA deals with corporate sponsors.

See Harvard Center for Risk Analysis and Big Tobacco


John D. Graham founded HCRA in 1989 and continued as Director until December 2001 when he was appointed by George W. Bush to head the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, a part of the Office of Management and Budget.

John Graham's nomination prompted Public Citizen to compile a background report on his work and track his nomination process. [7] Following Graham's confirmation in July 2001, George M. Gray was appointed as Acting Director.

In November 2003 HCRA announced that James K. Hammitt had been appointed as the organizations new Director. Gray will continue in the newly created position of Executive Director. “Gray will have responsibility for HCRA’s operational management and will play a key role in efforts to develop financial support,” the release stated. [8]

Key personnel of the organisation - as posted on the organisations website in January 2004 but which appears to date from at least early 2003* - include:

The Executive Council consisting of

  • Mr. Vincent A. Calarco Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and President Crompton Corporation
  • Mr. Earnest Deavenport, Retired Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Eastman Chemical
  • Dr. E. Linn Draper, Chairman, President, and Chief Executive Officer American Electric Power Co.
  • Ms. Karen Doyne, Senior Vice President Public Affairs and Issues Management Ketchum Communications
  • Mr. John Georges, Retired Chairman, CEO International Paper
  • Mr. Thomas Graham, Retired Chairman and CEO of AK Steel
  • Mr. C. Boyden Gray, Partner, Wilmer, Cutler and Pickering
  • Mr. Thomas Grumbly, President and CEO, Key Stone Center
  • Mr. Jerry Jasinowski, President National Association of Manufacturers
  • Mr. William Shaw McDermott, Partner, Kirkpatrick & Lockhart
  • Mr. Dana G. Mead, Retired Chairman & CEO Tenneco, Inc.
  • Mr. Henry A. "Hank" McKinnell, Jr, President and CEO Pfizer, Inc.
  • Mr. David Peipers, President, Peipers & Company
  • Professor Howard Raiffa
  • Frank P. Ramsey, Professor of Managerial Economics emeritus at the Harvard Business School and the Kennedy School of Government
  • Ms. Katherine Rhyne, Partner, King & Spalding
  • Mr. Stuart Singer,Partner, Boies, Schiller, and Flexner

Harvard Representatives:

  • George Gray, Acting Director, Harvard Center for Risk Analysis
  • Patricia Shea, Senior Major Gifts Officer, Harvard School of Public Health

The Advisory Council, according to a media release by the Grocery Manufacturers of America (GMA), meets in June every two years [9]. Its current membership comprises:

  • Dr. Jan Acton, Vice President, Charles River Associates
  • Dr. Nell Ahl, Director, Office of Risk Assessment and Cost-Benefit Analysis USDA
  • Marc Berger, MDVice President, Outcomes Research and Management Merk & Co., Incorporated;
  • Dr. Vicki Bier, Associate Professor University of Wisconsin Department of Industrial Engineering
  • Mr. Timothy Bingman, DuPont
  • Mr. Don Bischoff, Executive Director, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
  • Dr. William Bishop, Associate Director, Risk, Policy &Regulatory Sciences Department Procter & Gamble Company,
  • Laurie Beth Burke, R.Ph., M.Ph. Senior Supervisory Regulator FDA
  • Carolyn Clancy, MD Director, Agency for Health Care Policy and Research Department of Health and Human Services
  • Dr. Robert Clemen, Professor Fuqua School of Business, Duke University
  • Dr. Maureen Cropper, Principal Economist, Department of Economics, University of Maryland
  • Mr. Dainius Dalmotas, Senior Engineer, Road Safety & Motor Vehicle Regulation Directorate Transport Canada
  • Dr. Lisa Egbuonu-Davis, Vice President, Global Outcomes Research & Medical Services Pfizer Incorporated
  • Dr. Susan Ferguson, Vice President of Research Insurance Institute for Highway Safety
  • Dr. Adam Finkel, Directorate of Health Standards Programs Department of Labor, OSHA
  • Dr. Steven Garber, Senior Economist RAND Corporation
  • Dr. Louis Garrison,VP and Head, Health Economics and Strategic Pricing Roche Pharamceuticals, F. Hoffman-LaRoche, Ltd.
  • Dr. Laura Green, Senior Scientist and President Cambridge Environmental, Incorporated
  • Dr. Jens Gruger, Head, Global Health Economics and Disease Mgmnt. Novartis Pharma A.G. Global Marketing
  • Dr. Michael Hutcheson, Head of Air and Water Toxics Group, Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection
  • Ms. Ingo Kallina, Vice President Passenger Car Components Structure and Safety Mercedes-Benz
  • Jonathan Kaplan, M.D.Associate Director for Opportunisitcf Infections Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • Dr. Patrick Kinney, Associate Professor, School of Public Health Columbia University
  • Dr. Bryan Luce, MBA, Senior Research Leader and CEO MEDTAP International Inc.
  • Dr. John Mendeloff, Professor, Public Management and Policy Program University of Pittsburgh
  • Douglas Owens, MD, MS, Asscoiate Professor of Medicine, CPH/CPCOR, Stanford University
  • Dr. Joan Rose, Professor, Department of Marine Sciences, University of South Florida
  • Dr. Alon Rosenthal, J.D., Director, Arava Institute for Environmental Studies, Israel
  • Dr. P. Barry Ryan, Professor, Department of Environmental & Occupational Health Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University
  • Phillip W. Sarocco, R.Ph., M.Sc, Director, Health Economics Aventis Pharamceuticals
  • Dr. Rita Schoeny, Associate Director, Health and Criteria Division U.S. Environmental Protection
  • Dr. J. Sanford Schwartz, MD, Professor of medicine, Healthcare Management and Economics University of Pennsylvania
  • Dr. Steve Sheingold, Director Division of Program Analysis and Performance Measurement Health Care Financing Administration
  • Dr. Jason Shogren, Professor, Economics Department, University of Wyoming
  • Mr. David Sigman, J.D, Chief Attorney, Environmental Affairs Exxon Chemical Americas
  • Dr. Andrew Smith, State Toxicologist of Maine
  • Dr. M. Jane Teta, Director of Epidemiology, Health Information, Risk Assessment and TSCA Union Carbide Corporation
  • Mr. Harry Teter, J.D, Executive Director, Trauma Society
  • Mr. Jonathan Wiener, J.D, Associate Professor, Duke University School of Law and School of Environment
  • Dr. Richard Williams, Director, Division of Market Studies FDA HFS
  • Thomas C. Wright, MD, Associate Professor, Dept. of Pathology College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia Univ.
  • Dr. Stacey Zawel, Director, Scientific and Regulatory Affairs Grocery Manufacturers Association
  • While this list is current as of January 2004 it is a little dated. For example, the HCRA website lists Karen Doyne as working for Ketchum Communications when in fact she joined Burson Marsteller in June 2003.

Former Staff


This list of funders is current as of January 2004. A list of individual contributors is also listed on the site but is not included here.

When Graham appeared before a Congressional committee hearing in March 2003 he said the policy of the center, where he previously worked, was to disclose the names of the funders but not the amount of their contributions. [10]

According to a 2001 story an unspecified source told in The Washington Post that the annual budget of the Center was approximately $3million. “Of that amount, 40 percent was donated by private sources and was unrestricted; 30 percent came from government; 20 percent from private donors for specific projects; and 10 percent from Harvard,’ it stated. [11]

The then Grocery Manufacturers Association of America Vice President, Scientific and Regulatory Policy, Susan A. Ferenc, saw benefits to her participation in the HCRA. “As negotiations proceed at WTO and Codex Ailmentarius, Harvard Center for Risk Analysis and GMA will work together to promote the crucial role that science based risk assessments play in the development of trade rules,” stated a media release announcing her participation in the HCRA’s advisory committee. (The GMA is listed as one of the current funders of HCRA).[12]

The GMA stated that in 2001 the meeting would issues including “the role of food safety in international trade, bovine spongiform encephaloathy (BSE) and food biotechnology”. [13]

Unrestricted grants

  • 3M
  • Aetna Life & Casualty Company
  • Air Products and Chemicals, Inc.
  • Alcoa Foundation
  • American Automobile Manufacturers Association
  • American Chemistry Council
  • American Crop Protection Association
  • American Medical Association
  • Education and Research Foundation
  • American Petroleum Institute
  • American Plastics Council
  • Amoco Corporation
  • ARCO Chemical Company
  • ASARCO Inc.
  • Ashland Inc. Foundation
  • Association of American Railroads
  • Astra AB
  • Astra-Merck
  • AstraZeneca AB
  • AstraZeneca R&D Molndal
  • AstraZeneca US
  • Atlantic Richfield Corporation
  • Aventis Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
  • Ayco
  • BASF
  • Bethlehem Steel Corporation
  • Boatmen's Trust
  • Boise Cascade Corporation
  • BP America Inc.
  • Bristol-Myers Squibb
  • Business Roundtable
  • Cabot Corporation Foundation
  • Carolina Power and Light
  • Cement Kiln Recycling Coalition
  • Center for Energy and Economic Development
  • Chemical Manufacturers Association
  • Chevron Research & Technology Company
  • ChevronTexaco
  • Chlorine Chemistry Council
  • Ciba-Geigy Corporation
  • Ciba-Geigy Limited
  • CITGO Petroleum Company
  • Coalition for Vehicle Choice
  • The Coca-Cola Company
  • Commonwealth Fund
  • Cytec Industries
  • Delphi Automotive Systems
  • Dow Chemical Company
  • DowElanco
  • DuPont Agricultural Products
  • Eastman Chemical Company
  • Eastman Kodak Company
  • Edison Electric Institute
  • E.I. DuPont de Nemours & Company
  • Electric Power Research Institute
  • Emerson Electric
  • Exxon Corporation
  • Exxon Mobil Corporation
  • FBC Chemical Corporation
  • FMC Corporation
  • Ford Motor Company
  • Fort James Foundation
  • Frito-Lay
  • General Electric Fund
  • General Motors Corporation
  • The Geon Company
  • Georgia-Pacific Corporation (owned by Koch Industries)
  • Glaxo-Wellcome, Inc. (now GlaxoSmithKline)
  • Glaxo-Smithkline Beecham (now GlaxoSmithKline)
  • The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company
  • Grocery Manufacturers of America
  • Hoechst Celanese Corporation
  • Hoechst Marion Roussel
  • Hoffman-LaRoche Inc.
  • ICI Americas Inc.
  • Inland Steel Industries
  • International Paper
  • The James River Corporation Foundation
  • Janssen Pharmaceutica Research
  • Johnson & Johnson
  • Kraft Foods
  • Louisiana Chemical Association
  • Lyondell Chemical Company
  • Mead Corporation Foundation
  • Medtronic
  • Merck & Company, Inc.
  • Merck Medco
  • Microban
  • Millenium Chemical Company
  • Mobil Foundation, Inc.
  • Monsanto Company
  • National Food Processors Association
  • National Rural Water Association
  • National Steel
  • New England Power Service -- New
  • England Electric System
  • Nippon Yakin Kogyo
  • North American Insulation
  • Manufacturers Association
  • NOVA Chemicals, Inc.
  • Novartis Corporation
  • Novartis International
  • Olin Corporation Charitable Trust
  • Oxford Oil
  • Oxygenated Fuels Association
  • Parke-Davis
  • PepsiCo Inc.
  • The Pittston Company
  • Pfizer, Inc.
  • Pharmacia Upjohn
  • Pharmacia Corporation
  • Potlatch Corporation
  • PPG
  • Praxair, Inc.
  • Procter & Gamble Company
  • Reynolds Metals Company Foundation
  • Rhone-Poulenc, Inc.
  • Roche Pharmaceuticals
  • Rohm and Haas Company
  • Schering-Plough Corporation
  • Shell Oil Company Foundation
  • Texaco Foundation
  • Union Carbide Foundation
  • Unocal Corporation
  • USX Corporation
  • Volvo
  • Warner-Lambert
  • Westinghouse Electric Corporation
  • Westvaco
  • WMX Technologies, Inc.
  • Wyeth-Ayerst Research
  • Zeneca [14]

Restricted grants

  • Alfred P. Sloan Foundation
  • American Chemistry Council
  • American Crop Protection Association
  • American Farm Bureau Federation
  • American Industrial Health Council
  • Andrew Mellon Foundation
  • AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals
  • AT&T Wireless
  • Berlex Lab
  • Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
  • Boston Medical Center
  • Bradley Foundation
  • Brigham & Women’s Hospital
  • Brookings Institution
  • California Avocado Commission
  • Charles G. Koch Foundation
  • Chiang Ching-Kuo Foundation for
  • International Scholarly Exchange
  • Chlorine Chemistry Council
  • Congressional Research Service
  • D&D Foundation
  • Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
  • Duke University
  • Eli Lilly & Co.
  • Electric Power Research Institute
  • Elsa U. Pardee Foundation
  • Endometriosis Association
  • Harvard Pilgrim Healthcare, Inc.
  • International Life Science Institute/
  • Risk Science Institute
  • Health Canada
  • Health and Environmental Sciences Group
  • Massachusetts General Hospital
  • National Association of Home Builders
  • National Food Processors Association
  • Research Foundation
  • National Institutes of Health
  • National Institute of Justice
  • National Research Council
  • Office of Health Economics/PhRMA
  • Pfizer, Inc.
  • Public Health Advisory Board
  • Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
  • Roche Global Pharmacoeconomic Research
  • Schering Plough
  • Society of the Plastics, Inc.
  • Society for Risk Analysis
  • Styrene Information and
  • Research Center
  • U.S. Agency for Health Care Policy Research
  • U.S. Centers for Disease Control
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture
  • U.S. Department of Energy
  • U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
  • U.S. Department of Transportation
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
  • U.S. Food and Drug Administration
  • U.S. National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration
  • U.S. National Science Foundation
  • Wireless Technology Research Foundation
  • Yale University [15]

Case studies

Contact information

Harvard Center for Risk Analysis
718 Huntington Ave
Boston, MA 02115
Web: http://www.hcra.harvard.edu/
Phone: 617 432-4497
fax 617 432-0190

James Hammitt
Phone: 617-432-4030

George M. Gray
Executive Director
Email:ggray AT hsph.harvard.edu

External links

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