Radiation Effects Research Foundation to make database of A-bomb tissue samples

by Kyoko Niiyama, Staff Writer

The Radiation Effects Research Foundation (RERF, located in Minami Ward) will begin creating a database next year of tissue samples, including samples of blood and organs, that the organization has collected from A-bomb survivors and victims. Toshiteru Okubo, the chairman of RERF, announced the plan at the organization’s meeting of councilors, which opened on June 18.

RERF’s predecessor, the Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission (ABCC), had collected samples from those who experienced the A-bombing from the time of its founding in 1947. Today, RERF has as many as 800,000 blood and urine samples in storage. In April 2013, RERF brought together the samples stored by each of its divisions into one central location, launching the “biological sample center” to create the database.

In his opening remarks at the meeting of councilors, Mr. Okubo stressed the achievement of bringing the new center into being. “We have been advancing this plan with the goal of making the center fully operational next year,” he said. RERF intends to make the database available to authorized researchers.

A total of 23 people, including eight councilors from Japan and the United States and officials from the Japanese and American governments, were present at the meeting. Glenn Podonsky, the chief officer for health, safety and security at the U.S. Department of Energy, mentioned the importance of nurturing younger researchers on radiation issues and proposed launching an internship program for students from around the world. The meeting of councilors, where the agenda includes closed-door discussion of plans for this year’s RERF projects, will conclude on June 19.

(Originally published on June 19, 2013)