Radiation Effects Research Foundation seeks to become international organization 

by Michiko Tanaka, Staff Writer

On June 21, the Radiation Effects Research Foundation (RERF), located in Minami Ward, Hiroshima, announced its vision for the future with regard to the nature of its organization and areas of research. Currently administered jointly by the Japanese and U.S. governments, RERF shared for the first time that it will seek to become an international organization, serving as a base for research on the effects of the atomic bombings as well as other cases of exposure to radiation.

This vision, which incorporates long-term, mid-term, and short-term goals, was presented and endorsed at a meeting of its board of councilors, held on June 19 and 20 in Washington D.C.

In 2008, a third-party organization recommended that RERF consult with the Japanese and U.S. governments to flesh out its path for the future. But such talks with government officials did not move forward, so RERF proceeded to plot its own vision.

RERF will seek to become an independent international organization in the future, its long-term goal to serve as a leading center of research and education on the effects of radiation in the world. This move, in part, is due to the difficult financial state of the organization.

RERF foresees its research on life expectancy involving the A-bomb survivors to end in 2045 and a clinical study concerning second-generation A-bomb survivors to end in 2070. The organization expects that, by 2070, it will have amassed extensive data in the field of radiation epidemiology, mainly blood samples from over 2.1 million A-bomb survivors and second-generation A-bomb survivors.  

RERF will establish 15 goals for its research, including the study of risks associated with exposure to low-dose radiation, a cause of concern in the wake of the accident at the Fukushima No. 1 (Daiichi) nuclear power plant, as well as research on genetic effects involving second-generation A-bomb survivors. RERF’s findings will then be compiled and put online so that the world’s researchers can access this database and make wide use of the materials.

At the board of councilors meeting, RERF also presented its response to the accident at the nuclear plant in Fukushima. The organization explained that, among other actions, it had dispatched experts on radiation measurement to the affected areas and concluded an agreement with Fukushima Medical University to work together in studying the health management of residents of Fukushima Prefecture.

(Originally published on June 22, 2012)