Person:CRONINGER, Adele Bullen (1920 - 1968)

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CRONINGER, Adele Bullen (1920 - 1968)
CRONINGER, Adele Bullen (1920 - 1968)-01a.jpg
Family(s): Gauss
Person ID (Link to genealogy): GED link doc.gif I446
Descendant of C. F. Gauss
Sex: F
Date born: 1920
Date died: 1968
Father: CRONINGER, Clifford R. (1857 - 1954)
Mother: BULLEN, Adele Gauss (1886 - 1959)
Spouse(s): Unknown
Children(in Wiki):

Other attributes


Adele Bullen Croninger was a research assistant at Washington University, and was part of a team that published a landmark paper linking tobacco to lung cancer.

Adele Croninger at

(Geologist, Washington University, Cancer Researcher) Worked with Wynder and Graham in mouse skin painting experiment in 1953 and on their earlier epidemiological study

Biographical Information: Adele Bullen Croninger was born in Clayton, Missouri, on March 23, 1920, the only child of Clifford Rugby Croninger (1877-1954), a banker, and the former Adele Gauss Bullen (1886-1959), who was a direct descendant of Carl Friedrich Gauss, the famed German scientist and mathematician. She attended the John Burroughs School in Clayton and then enrolled at Washington University in St. Louis, where she earned an M.A. in Geology in 1948 for a thesis entitled, "A Geographical Analysis of the Southwestern Michigan Peach Landscape."

Upon graduation, she opted to accept a position in an entirely unrelated field. Drs. Ernst Wynder and Evarts Graham of Washington University had received funding for an ambitious study of smoking habits and lung cancer rates. Croninger and another research assistant, Betty G. Proctor, were hired to conduct the interviews and Wynder would later describe Croninger as "a careful interviewer" and "a first-rate assistant" who "helped us greatly."

The study was released in 1950 and received widespread publicity. But the statistical nature of the evidence it presented was controversial and many well-respected scientists expressed reservations about it, including some luminaries such as E. Cuyler Hammond. So a follow-up study was designed that involved painting tar of the backs of mice to see if tumors would result.

Wynder and Graham had been so pleased with Croninger's contributions to the first study that her aid was again enlisted and she traveled with Wynder to Clarence Cook Little's "Mousetown" laboratory in Bar Harbor, Maine, to learn more about techniques for working with laboratory mice. The study then began and Croninger, according to Wynder, proved herself "a skillful laboratory worker."

Croninger provided this description of her work and the results in a 1955 interview with Edward R. Murrow: "These animals were painted three times a week with the cigarette tar solution. What we noticed in our original experiment was that, after about eight months, these animals first lost the hair on the painted area and then little warts, or papillomas as we call them, appeared. These are merely pre-cancerous lesions, and in the 11th month of painting, we had our first cancer."

The results were published in five parts between 1953 and 1958, with Croninger listed as a co-author with Wynder and Graham (who died of lung cancer in 1957). The study was immediately recognized as a landmark in linking cigarette smoking to lung cancer.

Almost nothing is known about Adele Croninger's life after the completion of the historic study. She never married and died in St. Louis in 1968, at the age of 48. She left her papers to the Becker Medical Library of Washington University in St. Louis.

Sources: Allan M. Brandt, The Cigarette Century: The Rise, Fall and Deadly Persistence of the Product that Defined America (New York: Basic Books, 2007). Richard Kluger, Ashes to Ashes: America's Hundred-Year Cigarette War and the Unabashed Triumph of Philip Morris (New York: Vintage Books, 1996). "Transcript of Edward R. Murrow's First TV Show on Cigarettes and Lung Cancer," May 31, 1955, "Trial testimony of JON M. HARKNESS, Ph.D., May 16, 2003, BOERNER v. BROWN & WILLIAMSON TOBACCO CO.," Ernst L. Wynder, "The Past, Present, and Future of the Prevention of Lung Cancer," Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention, 7:9, 735-748.

Key Publications: Ernst L. Wynder, Evarts A. Graham and Adele B. Croninger, "Experimental Production of Carcinoma with Cigarette Tar," Cancer Research, December 1953, 13:855-864. Ernst L. Wynder, Evarts A. Graham and Adele B. Croninger, "Experimental Production of Carcinoma with Cigarette Tar. II. Tests with Different Mouse Strains," Cancer Research, December 1955, 15:445-448. Ernst L. Wynder, Evarts A. Graham and Adele B. Croninger, "Experimental Production of Carcinoma with Cigarette Tar. III. Occurrence of Cancer after Prolonged Latent Period," Cancer, 1957, 10:481-85. Ernst L. Wynder, Evarts A. Graham and Adele B. Croninger, "Experimental Production of Carcinoma with Cigarette Tar: IV. Successful Experiments with Rabbits," Cancer Research, December 1957, 17:1058–1066. Ernst L. Wynder, Evarts A. Graham and Adele B. Croninger, "Experimental Production of Carcinoma with Tobacco Products: V. Carcinoma Induction in Mice with Cigar, Pipe, and All-Tobacco Cigarette Tar," Cancer Research, December 1958, 18: 1263-1271.


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