Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission

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Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission

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  • Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission (ABCC)
  • ABCC

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The Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission (ABCC) was formed after the bombings on Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6 and August 9, 1945. On November 18, 1946, President Harry Truman authorized the National Research Council to establish the organization “to undertake long range, continuing study of the biological and medical effects of the atomic bomb on man.” Key members of the ABCC included Lewis Weed, Austin M. Brues and Paul Henshaw, physicians from the National Research Council, and Army representatives Melvin A. Block, and James V. Neel. By the time the ABCC arrived in Japan on November 24, 1946, the Japanese had already started studying the effects on both immediate and delayed atomic bomb damage in survivors. Masao Tsuzuki was the leading Japanese authority on the biological effects of radiation and determined the different types of damage caused by the bombs and the effects on the human body.

By 1951, the ABCC had 1063 employees, 143 allied and 920 Japanese. The most important contribution of the ABCC was the genetics study which focused on the long-term effects of radiation exposure on pregnant women and their unborn children. The study also looked at the effects of radiation on survivors and their children. The ABCC did not actually treat the survivors that they studied, but it did give the survivors an opportunity to receive several medical checkups each year.

By the mid-1950s, trust in the ABCC was declining. The Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) had threatened to stop funding in 1951, but James Neel managed to convince them to continue funding for another three years. In 1956 Neel and William J. Schull published their final draft of The Effect of Exposure to the Atomic Bombs on Pregnancy Termination in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Over time, the ABCC would become the Radiation Effects Research Foundation (RERF). The RERF was officially establish on April 1, 1975 and is a binational organization run by both the United States and Japan to this day.

This information was taken from the Radiation Effects Research Foundation website at and from the donor cards of the collection located in the The John P. McGovern Historical Collections and Research Center.


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