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Samuel S. Epstein Papers 1933-2007
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Biographical Note

Samuel S. Epstein devoted his career to the study and identification of carcinogenic mechanisms in industrial pollutants, pesticides, cosmetics, food, as well as the entire range of environmental contaminants. He used his knowledge and experience to warn the public of risk, to advocate for regulation, to encourage cancer prevention measures, and to serve as an expert witness on the public's behalf in issues of toxic contamination and disease.

Born in Middlesborough, Yorkshire, England on April 13, 1926, Epstein received his medical degree from London University in 1958, where he had spent much of the previous decade studying tropical medicine and pathology. Beginning in 1961, he spent the next decade in Boston at the Children's Cancer Research Foundation and Harvard Medical School leading laboratories studying carcinogenesis and toxicology and as a research associate in pathology and microbiology. Beginning in 1971 he spent five years as Swetland Professor of Environmental Health and Human Ecology at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. He is Emeritus Professor of Environmental and Occupational Medicine at the University of Illinois' School of Public Health, a position he actively held from 1976 until his 1999 retirement.

Dr. Epstein traveled extensively and actively participated in various national and international organizations devoted to public health and the effects of environmental toxins. His pre-eminence in the field led to his expert testimony before Congress in 1973 and 1974 which helped formulate regulation of pesticides and various other environmentally-invasive chemicals. Since 1971 his books warned the public of the dangers inherent in hazardous waste, pesticides, drugs, cosmetics, milk, and meat. Related to these issues, Dr. Epstein concluded in numerous volumes that cancer societies and government cancer research institutions misdirected their efforts towards developing cures rather than addressing the issue of prevention. He participated in the founding of the Environmental Mutagen Society in 1969 and the Cancer Prevention Coalition in 1994, and served as the president of the Society for Occupational and Environmental Health and of the Rachel Carson Council.