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Lawrence Garfinkel, pioneer in smoking, lung cancer studies

Lawrence Garfinkel, the statistician who overcame his lack of a doctoral degree and training in oncology to become one of the driving forces in demonstrating that smoking causes lung cancer, died Jan. 21 in Seattle.

The cause of death was cardiovascular disease, according to his son Martin. He was 88.

Garfinkel oversaw the training of thousands of volunteers for the American Cancer Society and helped conduct two of the largest epidemiological studies ever, enrolling more than 2.2 million men and women. Those studies, along with the British Doctors' Study, played key roles in formulating the landmark 1964 surgeon general's report on smoking and health.

Garfinkel, born in Manhattan, graduated high school at 15 and enrolled at City College of New York, working in the garment district by day and attending classes at night, studying on the subway. His education was interrupted by the war and he joined the Army infantry. Seriously wounded by shrapnel in France in August 1944, he recuperated for months before returning to school and work.

Because he was working, it took 10 years to earn his bachelor's degree in statistics from CCNY. He then earned a master's in the discipline from Columbia University, before joining the cancer society. - Los Angeles Times

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