50th Anniversary of U.S.- Japan Health Studies
The keynote speaker of
that session, Dr. Niel Wald, described the newly-funded cooperative agreement
between EH and the University of Pittsburgh. The Postdoctoral Fellowship
Program provides a first year of comprehensive classroom instruction, laboratory
rotations, and other training activities designed to train multidisciplinary
radiation scientists. This is followed by a second year at a field site
of DOE interest, such as at the RERF, at Chelyabinsk, Russia, for studies
on MAYAK nuclear facility workers, or at domestic DOE cleanup projects.
|A number of
events occurred in Washington, D.C., in June 1997 in conjunction with
the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the initiation of studies
of the Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission/Radiation Effects Research
Foundation (ABCC/RERF). This is the longest continuing program supported
by DOE and its predecessor agencies. The results of these studies
are the primary source of data used to develop radiation protection
standards that are used throughout the world.
In 1947, at the request of the U.S. Government, the National Academy
of Sciences-National Research Council (NAS-NRC) initiated a long-term
investigation of the health effects associated with exposure to radiation
from the atomic bombs. In 1975, the RERF was established and assumed
the responsibilities of ABCC. Currently, the RERF is co-funded by
the Japanese Ministry of Health and Welfare and the DOE Office of
Environment, Safety and Health (EH), with the NAS-NRC acting as scientific
and administrative liaison for DOE.
A symposium was held at the NAS on June 13-14, 1997, to commemorate
the first 50 years and look to the future. The evening before the
symposium, a reception hosted by the Japanese Embassy honored a large
contingent of Japanese retirees from ABCC or RERF and their American
counterparts. In welcoming comments at the reception, Dr. Tara O'Toole
thanked these special guests and the many other researchers and support
staff who devoted years and lifetimes of work to the ABCC/RERF studies.
The first session of the symposium on Friday morning was a commemorative
ceremony at which greetings were presented by Dr. Bruce Alberts, NAS
President; Dr. Itsuzo Shigematsu, retiring RERF chairman; Dr. O'Toole,
representing the U.S. Government; and Mr. Shotaro Oshima, Minister,
Embassy of Japan. In a continuation of her theme from the previous
evening, Dr. O'Toole referring to the unique Japanese-American collaboration,
said that "there are few forces more powerful than the force of people
working together for common goals." Looking toward the future, she
also remarked that "it is imperative that radiation effects research
remain vital and continuously supplied with fresh talent and enthusiasm."
In congratulating the new RERF Chairman, Dr. Shigenobu Nagataki, Dr.
O'Toole wished that "the science at RERF prosper and the trust be
strengthened ... to come to better understand the effects of radiation
in order to better protect, heal, and deal responsibly with the legacy
of nuclear weapons production."
The first session of the scientific symposium featured the reminiscences
of senior American and Japanese scientists and administrators who
had worked at the RERF and ABCC. In a series of sessions on risk estimation,
noncancer end points, molecular and genetic basis of cancer, dosimetry,
and studies on offspring of the atomic bomb survivors, RERF scientists
presented the results of their latest work and discussed their future
directions and goals. Panels composed of distinguished scientists contributed ideas and different perspectives
to the discussion of these goals. (Further information on the symposium
can be obtained from NAS.) The final session considered training possibilities
at the RERF and other collaboration initiatives.
Another highlight of the commemorative activities was an evening reception
hosted by the DOE and the NAS at the Decatur House at Lafayette Square.
Mr. Frank Hawkins, Director of the Office of International Health Programs,
presented a special award to Dr. Shigematsu on his retirement in recognition
of 16 years of outstanding service as RERF chairman.
This page was last updated on December 10, 2012