RERF support for U.S. research institute informally decided

by Uzaemonnaotsuka Tokai, Staff Writer

On September 3, the Radiation Effects Research Foundation (RERF) in Minami Ward, Hiroshima, revealed that it received an informal notice regarding its research support for the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). RERF plans to hear the views of members of the RERF Hiroshima Local Liaison Council in regard to this issue on September 8 and make a formal contract as early as this month.

Among the four targeted research projects for RERF’s support are research on immune systems, such as blood-forming stem cells, and research on the effect indicator of aging and radiation on immune systems. For this research RERF will use some blood and tissue specimens from the thymus glands provided by atomic bomb survivors.

RERF, at the request of NIAID, made an offer in mid-February to support NIAID’s research. RERF is set to receive roughly 200 million yen a year for five years, in the form of a grant, from October 2009.

NIAID is an organization of the U.S. National Institute of Health under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. In the wake of the terrorist attacks in the United States on September 11, 2001, NIAID has, since 2004, played a central role in the research on countermeasures against nuclear terrorism. For this reason, some members of the RERF Hiroshima Local Liaison Council voiced concern at the council meeting in April over the possibility that the RERF research might be diverted to military purposes.

Toshiteru Okubo, the chairman of RERF, explained, “These research projects are for the treatment of people exposed to radiation due to nuclear terrorism and medical accidents. We will make public all results of the research projects.” RERF has required NIAID to clearly indicate in the contract that the RERF research will be used “for peaceful purposes only.”

(Originally published on September 4, 2009)

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