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RERF mourns the passing of Dr. Charles E. Land


Charles E. Land, Ph.D., one of the founders of the “Golden Age” of the Radiation Effects Research Foundation (RERF), died January 25, 2018. He had retired in 2009 from his position at the U.S. National Cancer Institute and was living peacefully in Portugal with his wife Vera.

Dr. Land served as a research scientist at the Departments of Statistics and Epidemiology of the Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission (ABCC) for almost four years at different times during the period from 1966 through 1975; he then served as a visiting scientist at the Department of Epidemiology of RERF during 1990–2010. The period from 1970 through 1980, during which ABCC was reorganized into RERF, had seen substantial progress in statistical analysis techniques. Dr. Land was one of the investigators who pioneered such technological innovation in statistical analysis at RERF during this period. He employed new techniques and released a number of important papers regarding the association between A-bomb radiation and cancer development. He had a strong interest in breast cancer in particular, as evidenced by 21 of his 91 papers addressing this disease. These studies paved the way for the current breast cancer studies at RERF. Furthermore, Dr. Land, an internationally acclaimed statistician, served as a member of the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) as well as the U.S. Committee on the Biological Effects of Ionizing Radiation (BEIR). Specifically, at ICRP, he compiled important reports regarding tissue weighting factor, which serves as the basis for radiation protection frameworks, as well as reports about linear non-threshold models for low-dose risk estimation.

In this way, Dr. Land disseminated RERF’s research achievements throughout the global scientific community. Specifically, the results of A-bomb survivor studies are used as the basis for ICRP’s radiation protection standards. As the use of radiation grows in the world, radiation protection is significant for the health of radiation workers, as well as the atomic bomb survivors and other members of the general public, for whom diagnostic radiology is becoming a routine part of everyday life. In this respect, Dr. Land was a scientist who embodied the spirit of RERF’s Articles of Incorporation: “… conduct research and studies for peaceful purposes on medical effects of radiation and associated diseases in humans, with a view to contributing to maintenance of the health and welfare of the atomic bomb survivors and to enhancement of the health of all humankind.”

Dr. Land was a distinguished researcher in various aspects. As some are already aware, he was also an attractive human being. Tall, good-looking, quiet, humble and delightful, Dr. Land made people happy and was loved by everyone. He was born in 1937 in San Francisco and was 81 when he died. Considering that Dr. Land had more of his life to live and could have given joy to so many more people, we truly mourn his passing.


February 6, 2018

Ohtsura Niwa, RERF Chairman
Robert L. Ullrich, Vice Chairman
Kazunori Kodama, Executive Director