Watauru W. Sutow, MD, is known for his work in pediatric oncology and for his pediatric studies with the Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission. Sutow was born August 31, 1912 and died December 20, 1981. Sutow was a pioneer in defining and establishing pediatric oncology as a specialty and chemotheraphy as a viable adjunct or alternative to radiotherapy and surgery for the treatment of cancer. During the late 1940s and early 1950s, Sutow directed a pediatric research team for the Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission. He later joined the University of Texas' M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. As a collaborator with the Brookhaven National Labratory, he conducted extensive research on the effects of radiation fallout on Marshall islanders.
Wataru "Wat" Walter Sutow was born August 31, 1912 in Guadalupe, California in the United States of America to Yasaku and Yoshi Sutow. He father was born in Fukushima, Japan, in 1868 and came to the Unites States in 1905. His mother, also of Fukushima, Japan, was born there in 1878, and migrated to the U.S. in 1911.
Wataru Sutow married Mary H. Korenaga in Guadalupe, California, in early September 1937. Mary was born May 28 1914, in Montrose, California. He attended the Stanford University School of Medicine from 1939-1942. As a result of the U.S. government's policy during World War II calling for imprisonment and revocation of civil rights for people of Japanese descent, Sutow was unable to finish his medical studies for most of the war. His family was forcibly relocated to Salt Lake City. He finally was able to complete his medical degree in 1945 at the age of 33. He earned his MD from the University of Utah College of Medicine.
The Sutows had two daughters while they resided in Salt Lake City, Ollie Ellen on October 3, 1942, and Chiyono Jean on September 14, 1946. Sutow completed his internship at Salt Lake City General Hostpital 1945-1946 and residency in the Departmnet of Pediatrics at the University of Utah 1946-1947. He obtained his license to practice medicine from the State of Utah on July 1, 1946; the State of California on September 24, 1947; and from the State of Texas on December 3, 1945.
Following the decision to use atomic weapons against Japan at the end of World War II in August of 1945, the United States government decided to study the immediate and long-term effects of ionized radiation on humans. Sutow was invited to help organize the pediatric portion of the studies by the Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission (ABCC) in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The Sutows left Salt Lake City in 1947 and were in Japan by 1948. During Sutow's first stint with the ABCC, he served as civilian head of the Pediatric Department. On January 16, 1950 they had their third and last child, a son named Edmund Keith who was born at Osaka General Hospital.
In 1950, the Sutow family returned to the United States. Sutow became a fellow at Stanford University where he worked with Dr. John Anderson. As a result of the Korean War, which began in June 1950, Sutow began serving in the U.S. Army in 1951 with the rank of Captain in the U.S. Army Medical Corps. He received his officer training in San Antonio and was assigned to the Far East Command. In that position, he again worked with the ABCC in 1953-1954 as Director of Pediatric Research doing the same job he earlier had done as a civilan.
Sutow was drawn to the Texas Medical Center through his working relationship with Dr. H. Grant Taylor, a former director of the ABCC. Taylor was the Professor of Pediatrics and Chief of the Section of Pediatrics of the University of Texas (UT) M.D. Anderson Hospital (MDAH) in 1954. Taylor recruited Sutow who joined MDAH pediatrics in 1954. Sutow served as assistant and associate pediatrician and associate professor of pediatrics until 1969 when he became pediatrician and Professor of Pediatrics. He was acting head of the department of pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine from 1954-1978. From 1957 on, his association as research collaborator with Brookhaven National Laboratory allowed him to continue and elaborate on his reseawrch on long-term radiation effects including his study of Japanese infants who had experienced in utero exposure to atomic bomb fallout. Aside from the study of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki popultations, he was also involved in the ongoing study of the effects of the exposure of Marshall Islanders to radiation fallout in 1954.
In March 1954, the United States conducted the Castle Bravo shot on the Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands. The Bravo shot was the first code name of the first test of a dry fuel hydrogenn bomb detonated in the atomosphere. Due to unexpected weather patterns, the fallout fell on residents of Rongelap and Utirik atolls in the Marshall Islands. Source: Castle Bravo (April 29, 2015); Wikipedia; retrieved April 30, 2015 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Castle_Bravo.
While at MDAH, Sutow organized inter-institutional groups, such as the Southwest Cancer Chemotheraphy Study Group for which he chaired the Pediatric Division 1957-1969. He chaired the Childhood Solid Tumor Committee from 1969-1976. He was a member of the Pediatric Executive Committee of hte Southwest Oncology Group from 1972-1979. He was a member of hte National Wilms' Tumor Study Committee from 1967 and a member of the Executive Committee, Section of Oncology and Hematology, American Academy of Pediatrics, 1975-1978.
When Sutow joined the MDAH Pediatric Section, it consisted of four beds. In Sutow's obituary, which ran in the December 22, 1981 edition of the Houston Post, Dr. Charles A. LeMaistre, president of the UT System Cancer Center, praised Sutow for innovations in treating cancer. "Popular opinion at that time (1954) was skeptical of hte value of drugs in treating cancer, but ... Sutow's regimens for treatment of osteosarcoma (bone cancer) produced some of the most dramatic results ever achieved in pediatric oncology." LeMaistre said. Dr. Jan van Eys stated in the May-June 1982 edition of "The Cancer Bulletin" that Sutow's legacy was that "pediatric oncology addresses the child with cancer, not the cancer in the child ... [Sutow's] ultimate aim was the cured childen, not the cure ... he gave them complete life, not permanent dependency."
In addition to his research and medical practice, Sutow served as an editor or sat on editorial boards for numerous cancer-related publications. He published more than 250 journal articles, contributed to cancer and pediatric textbooks, and published a cancer reference bibliography, a textbook and a book on malignant solid tumor of children.
He was member and a fellow of numerous medical organizations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Association for Cancer Research, the American Medical Association and numerous other organizations.
In his personal life, he was an avid conchologist, which is the study of mollusc shells, and a devoted student of philately, which is the study of stamps and postal history.