By:  Robin Elgart

Kevin Dressman, Director of the Office of Health and Safety (EHSS-10), Robin Elgart, Director of the Office of Domestic and International Health Studies (EHSS-13), and Joey Zhou, Acting Japan Program Manager for EHSS-13 traveled to Japan January 20-27, 2024 to meet with Radiation Effects Research Foundation (RERF)
EHSS and RERF staff at the entrance of the RERF Hiroshima Laboratory. From left to right: Dr. Tanabe (RERF), Dr. Kodama (RERF), Dr. Rajamaran (RERF), Dr. Elgart (EHSS-13), Mr. Dressman (EHSS-10), Dr. Kamiya (RERF), Dr. Zhou (EHSS-13)
Photo Credit: Radiation Effects Research Foundation 2024

Office of Health and Safety Meeting with RERF

Kevin Dressman, Director of the Office of Health and Safety (EHSS-10), Robin Elgart, Director of the Office of Domestic and International Health Studies (EHSS-13), and Joey Zhou, Acting Japan Program Manager for EHSS-13 traveled to Japan January 20-27, 2024 to meet with Radiation Effects Research Foundation (RERF) and other collaborative partners. As the primary institution studying the health impacts in the survivors of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, RERF has evolved into the premier institute in the world for epidemiological studies related to radiation effects. The results of RERF research are recognized as the primary basis for the system of radiation protection that supports communities worldwide. 

It is important to emphasize that the success of RERF is largely due to the continued selfless cooperation of the atomic bomb survivor community. Similar to other programs within the Office of Health and Safety, a major objective of the RERF program is to support the health and wellness of the individuals who have been adversely affected by the legacy of nuclear weapons production and use. The lessons learned from RERF research are the foundation of all the work we do to support these communities. 

RERF is funded by a strong binational partnership between the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare (MHLW) and the Department of Energy’s Office of Domestic and International Health Studies. Additionally, the Department of State provides support through the U.S. Embassy in Japan.  

During their visit, EHSS had the opportunity to meet with RERF leadership and scientists in Hiroshima as well as the Board of Councilors. They learned how RERF is continuing the legacy of world-class research, creating new opportunities, and collaborating and communicating broadly, to inform and support the health and welfare of atomic bomb survivors and radiation-exposed communities worldwide. Scientists from the departments of Molecular Biosciences, Epidemiology, Clinical Studies, Statistics, Information Technology, and the Biosample Research Center highlighted the next generation of research that demonstrated the significant scientific contributions RERF will continue to make. In particular, the collection and storage of over 2,000,000 biological samples from survivors provides research material for the new generation of researchers as new techniques emerge to better characterize the health impacts from exposure to radiation and integrate knowledge across disciplines. 

A view of the Genbaku Dome or Atomic Bomb Dome from across the Motoyasu River in Hiroshima, Japan.
A view of the Genbaku Dome or Atomic Bomb Dome from across the Motoyasu River in Hiroshima. The preserved ruin of the former Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall is part of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Photo Credit: Shona Robin Elgart 2024

For more information about the EHSS-13 Japan Program click here.

Resources to learn more about the Atomic Bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki

Selected Biographies of Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bomb survivors: https://atomicarchive.com/resources/books/hiroshima-nagasaki.html 

MORE ABOUT THIS AUTHOR

Robin Elgart is the Director, Office of Domestic and International Health Studies in DOE’s Office of Environment, Health, Safety and Security.