Radiation Effects Research Foundation

The Radiation Effects Research Foundation (RERF) is a joint U.S.-Japan research organization responsible for studying the medical effects of radiation and associated diseases in humans for the welfare of the survivors and all humankind.[1] The organization is located in Hiroshima, Japan.

Radiation Effects Research Foundation
RERF Logo.jpg
PredecessorAtomic Bomb Casualty Commission
Formation1 April 1975; 46 years ago (1975-04-01)
Founded atHiroshima, Japan
LeaderDr. Ohtsura Niwa

The studies have been going on for 70 years, which makes RERF the only institution that has been conducting epidemiological studies on a population of more than 120,000 individuals for this long.[2] RERF continues to conduct research until this day because the effects of A-bomb radiation on human health have not been fully elucidated.[1]

RERF conducts research in multiple fields of science including epidemiology, clinical medicine, genetics, and immunology.[2] Findings from RERF's studies have been used not only for the medical care and welfare of the A-bomb survivors but also for the establishment of international radiation protection standards.[2]


The preceding organization to RERF was the Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission which was established in 1948 by the U.S National Academy of Sciences.[2] It was established to determine how, over long-term, exposure to radiation affected the health of A-bomb survivors.[1]

An extensive interview survey was conducted in the 1950s, based on which records were compiled for each A-bomb survivor.[1] These records concerned location and structure of the building the survivor may have been at the time of the bombing. Based on these records, radiation doses were calculated for most A-bomb survivors.[1]

RERF was established on 1 April 1975, as a nonprofit foundation under the jurisdiction of the Japan Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Health and Welfare.[1] On 1 April 2012, RERF transitioned to a public interest incorporated foundation upon authorization by Japan's Prime Minister.[3]

Research Programs[3]Edit

RERF studies the effects of radiation on the survivors of the atomic bombings in Japan.

Life Span StudyEdit

This study gathers samples from the general population of both sexes and all ages. It is the most informative epidemiological study in the world, because of its long duration. It provides information about cancer incidence, cancer mortality and non-cancer effects on the survivors. RERF wants to continue the studies for complete lifetimes of the participants.

Adult Health StudyEdit

This is a clinical study of a sub-cohort of the Life Span Study, conducted every two years. It is investigating age and radiation-related physiological changes.

Children of Atomic-bomb Survivors StudyEdit

The study's goal is to determine whether genetic effects may appear in the children of the atomic bomb survivors. RERF has observed no radiation effects in the study of birth defects, chromosome abnormalities, and serum proteins. Currently, molecular studies on DNA are being conducted.

In Utero StudyEdit

This study investigates the effects of radiation on the people who were in utero at the time of the bombing (about 3,600 persons).

Radiation BiologyEdit

Radiation biology studies seek to understand the result of physical phenomena involved in radiation response. The studies are directed to DNA indications that cause breast and thyroid cancer.


This study focuses on the changes in the immune system of people exposed to atomic-bomb radiation.

Molecular EpidemiologyEdit

This is a newly emerging field of study at RERF, which investigates the radiation effects by looking at molecular changes in DNA. It is used to understand the mechanisms and causes of disease better.


Cytogenetics helps assess radiation exposure (biological dosimetry) by evaluating the structural damage in chromosomes.


This study assesses the risks through the application of mathematical models to rates of disease occurrence or death to identify radiation effects. The statisticians also take part in other studies done at RERF to develop better methods for analysis of data.

Atomic-bomb DosimetryEdit

This study provides survivors with radiation exposure dose estimates, based on the knowledge of physics and sensitive measurements that detect minute traces of the atomic bomb radiation in various materials. The information is also combined with historical interview data.


RERF has 2 facilities: one based in Hiroshima and one in Nagasaki.[3]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Introduction to Radiation Effects Research Foundation. (1995). Radiation Effects Research Foundation, pp.1-3. Available at: http://rerf.jp/shared/introd/introRERFe.pdf [Accessed 26 February 2018].
  2. ^ a b c d A Brief Description. (2014). Radiation Effects Research Foundation, p.1. Available at: http://rerf.jp/shared/briefdescript/briefdescript_e.pdf [Accessed 26 February 2018].
  3. ^ a b c "Radiation Effects Research Foundation".

External linksEdit