Dr. Richard Lerner of the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California has long been a "good friend" and "advisor" to the tobacco industry, conducting research projects deemed "beneficial to the business interests of PM [Philip Morris]".
As a research grantee of the Tobacco Institute's Center of Tobacco Research (CTR) program in the 1970s, Lerner received over $113,500 in grants to "determine the immunological consequences of different chemical carcinogens and tobacco smoke", to study gene expression in carcinogens, and to research viral interrelationships between 1971 and 1973. In 1972, Lerner is cited as a Project Director for CTR.
In 1994 and 1995, Lerner and Philip Morris Vice Presidents Bill Murray and Geoff Bible proposed and solicited Philip Morris to create a $225 million research facility called the Philip Morris Institute for Molecular Sciences to continue genomic experimentation and "basic research" and to work in conjunction with the Scripps Research Institute. Dropping "Philip Morris" from its name, the Molecular Sciences Institute opened its doors in June of 1996 with Dr. Sydney Brenner, an old friend and colleague of Lerner's, as its director. The Molecular Sciences Institute studies cellular responses to environmental and genetic changes.