Japan Program: Radiation Effects Research Foundation (RERF)
Background: The Department of Energy Office
of Health and Safety funds studies of the Japanese atomic
bomb survivors at the
Radiation Effects Research Foundation (RERF) in
Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan. The RERF program is believed
to have the longest history of any ongoing international
research program. DOE and its predecessor agencies have
provided support since 1947. The Atomic Bomb Casualty
Commission (ABCC) initiated studies on the effects of
radiation exposure in survivors of the atomic bombings
in Hiroshima and Nagasaki within two years of the bombings.
In 1975, RERF was established under Japanese law as
full successor to the ABCC and was designated to continue
the research. The Act of Endowment states that the objective
of the RERF is "to conduct research and studies, for
peaceful purposes, on medical effects of radiation on
man and on diseases which may be affected by radiation,
with a view to contributing to the maintenance of the
health and welfare of atomic bomb survivors and to the
enhancement of the health of all mankind." The Japanese
Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare (MHLW) and the
DOE Office of Health, Safety and Security (HSS) co-fund
the RERF program.
The Life Span Study is the major RERF epidemiologic study
that generates data on cancer incidence, cancer mortality,
and non-cancer effects in relation to radiation dose.
The RERF research program also includes in-utero, genetic,
mechanistic, and clinical (Adult Health Studies) studies,
as well as, follow-up studies on the children of the survivors
(F1 studies). Details on research progress can be found
on the RERF website: http://www.rerf.or.jp
The results of RERF research are the primary basis for
radiation protection standards throughout the world. The
radiation risk estimates rely on an accurate dosimetry
system. The dosimetry system DS02 was put in place in
2003 and a major compendium of papers defining the system
has been published
in February 2006.
- Collaboration between DOE and MHLW has resulted in
progress on a number of issues related to the funding and
management of the RERF.
- A series of 5-year agreements between MHLW and DOE
has led to stable funding for RERF and increased
accountability. The latest 5-year agreement was
signed on November 7, 2005.
- DOE and MHLW developed a plan for completion of needed atomic bomb dosimetry studies, including timeline, research tasks, and funding responsibilities.
- DOE and MHLW supported the Blue Ribbon Panel Report
of 1996 Blue Ribbon
Panel Report and promoted the highest standards of
independent peer review of the RERF scientific projects
through the Science Council and other appropriate
mechanisms. DOE and MHLW supported another senior panel
to review the scientific progress and plans of RERF and
make recommendations concerning the future of RERF. The
Senior Review Panel report (2008) recommended that the
core studies be continued for the next 20 years.
- DOE and MHLW have been facilitating the process of converting RERF into a Public
- RERF has completed its transition to a public interest incorporated foundation on April 1, 2012.
- DOE-sponsored a half-day technical session and a full day workshop on Atomic Bomb Survivor Dosimetry - Residual Radiation Exposure at the Health Physics Society annual meeting in Sacramento in July 2012. The technical session included presentations on recent studies by six Japanese and six U.S. scientists. Following the technical session, presenters and other invited scientists participated in a one-day workshop that provided time for detailed discussions of recent studies and to evaluate the use of these studies in clarifying potential residual radiation doses to atomic-bomb survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. A report that provides a summary of the workshop was submitted for peer review process to the Health Physics Journal.
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