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Oral Histories

Dr. Patricia Wallace Durbin, Ph.D.


Short Biography

Support for Research Withdrawn by Department of Energy

Dr. Durbin's Current Research

Radiation Research With Monkeys, 1954-1981

Potential Influences of Monkey Studies on Strontium Metabolism in Humans

Initiation of Animal Studies as Part of Project Sunshine

Human Strontium Injection Studies

Study of Calcium and Strontium Metabolism in Human Infants

Direction for Future Department of Energy Research in Metabolism and Biology

Why She Perceives That the Department of Energy Lacks Interest in Nuclide Studies

Rationale for Studies of Human Metabolism of Radionuclides

Doctoral Research on Fluorine-18

Dr. Joseph Hamilton's Astatine Research

Human Study With Astatine

Research on Use of Iodine-131

Research on Chelating Agents

Recollections About Dr. Joseph Hamilton

Decompression Studies at Donner Laboratory

Relations Between Donner and Lawrence Berkeley Laboratories

Wartime Animal Research on Plutonium Metabolism

Reanalyzing the Human Plutonium Injection Studies

Following Up on Human Subjects of the Plutonium Study

The California Plutonium Injection Cases

Dr. Durbin's Discussions With Wright Langham

Completeness of Information on Plutonium Injections

Recollections of Dr. Bertram Low-Beer

Ethical Discussions About Human Radiation Experiments

Reflections on Career Choices

A View of Public Attitudes Toward Radiation Studies

The Need to Complete Analysis of the Plutonium Injection Data

(1)Battelle, Pacific Northwest Laboratory, Richland, Washington

(2)any element of the actinide series-the series of mostly synthetic radioactive elements whose atomic numbers range from 89 (actinium) through 103 (lawrencium)

(3)a chemical agent that removes heavy metals from the bloodstream and soft tissues

(4)Rochester, New York

(5)a technique whereby thin tissues sections are placed on photographic film to record tracks if radioactive particles are emitted

(6)a malignant tumor composed of epithelial tissue-the tissue layer covering body surfaces or lining the internal surfaces of body cavities, tubes, and hollow organs

(7)the gum(s)

(8)the bone or bony composite that makes up the lower jaw

(9)derived from or made up of bone-forming tissue

(10)any of various malignant tumors composed of neoplastic cells resembling embryonic connective tissue

(11)study of the uptake, retention, translocation, and excretion of elements by the living organism

(12)inside the body

(13)having spongy or porous structure, as found at the ends of long bones; cancellate

(14)joined or packed together; dense

(15)serum albumin the principal protein of blood plasma)and serum globulin the globulin in blood serum containing most of the blood's antibodies)

(16)of the glomerulus, any compact cluster of nerves or capillaries, especially in the kidney, that acts as a filter of the blood

(17)a plasma glycoprotein that transports dietary iron to the liver, spleen, and bone marrow

(18)a protein of the liver, spleen, and bone marrow that stores iron for use in metabolism

(19)conveying bile, a bitter, alkaline, yellow or greenish liquid, secreted by the liver, that aids in intestinal absorption and digestion, especially of fatty substances

(20)The AEC Division of Biology and Medicine, in response to the urgent need for radiation biomedical information, initiated Project Sunshine. The Project began an evaluation of the hazards associated with nuclear war and grew into a worldwide investigation of radioactive fallout levels in the environment and in human beings.

(21)"a high-level security clearance issued by AEC(and later DOE), comparable to a Top Secret clearance from the U.S. Department of Defense

(22)International Commission on Radiological Protection

(23)diagnostic and therapeutic medical techniques using radionuclides or radioisotopes

(24)an endocrine gland located at the base of the neck and secreting two hormones that regulate the rates of metabolism, growth, and development

(25)a part that forms a known fraction of a whole and constitutes a sample for chemical analysis

(26)analysis of the amount of material present by the number of counts comprising the energy spectrum or peak

(27)analysis of a sample according to its characteristic emission of radiation, especially of visible light, by a substance during exposure to x rays

(28)a component of cell membranes abundant in nerve tissue

(29)Committee on Interagency Radiation Research and Policy Coordination

(30)Office of Health and Environmental Research, DOE

(31)U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission

(32)U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

(33)Energy Research and Development Agency, a predecessor agency to the Department of Energy

(34)exposure standards are so low-that is, so conservative and restrictive(protective)

(35)radioactive nuclides (atomic species in which the atoms all have the same atomic number and mass number)

(36)the U.S. Government's ultrasecret project to develop an atomic bomb

(37)the branch of biology dealing with the functions and activities of living organisms and their parts

(38)the science or the study of the origin, nature, and course of diseases

(39)the branch of pharmacology dealing with the effects, antidotes, detection, etc. of poisons

(40)an accelerator in which particles move in spiral paths in a constant magnetic field

(41)In 1988, Congress changed the name and mission of the National Bureau of Standards to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

(42)positron emission tomography-the process of producing a PET scan, a medical image obtained by examination with a PET scanner, a device that produces computerized three-dimensional images of biochemical activity in the brain or other organ through use of radioactive tracers that emit positrons and twin 0.511 MeV gamma rays

(43)a heavy, rare element of the halogen family

(44)As Fisher points out later, astatine-211 has a physical half-life of just 7 hours.

(45)a chemical, 6-propyl-2-thiouracil, used as a thyroid inhibitor

(46)having had the ovaries surgically removed

(47)having undergone the surgical removal of the adrenal glands

(48)having undergone the surgical removal of the pituitary gland

(49)the small gland attached to the base of the brain, constituting the master endocrine gland affecting all hormonal functions of the body

(50)abnormal multiplication of cells

(51)radioactive substances that emit helium nuclei during radioactive decay and can cause tissue damage if ingested or inhaled

(52)an aromatic, polycyclic hydrocarbon, C22H14, capable, when injected into the body, of producing epithelial tumors

(53)promoting or producing estrus, a recurring period of maximum sexual receptivity in most female mammals other than humans; "heat"

(54)a series of physiological changes in sexual and other organs in female mammals, extending from one estrus (period of heat)to the next

(55)malignant tumors composed of epithelial tissue (a tissue layer covering body surfaces or lining the internal surfaces of body cavities, tubes, and hollow organs)

(56)benign tumors originating in a secretory gland

(57)an immature egg cell of the animal ovary: in humans, one oocyte matures during the menstrual cycle while several others partially mature and disintegrate.

(58)the branch of pathology dealing with the structure of normal or diseased tissue

(59)pertaining to the adrenal glands-a pair of ductless glands, located above the kidneys, that produces steroidal hormones, epinephrine, and norepinephrine

(60)antibodies produced by a laboratory cell clone to achieve greater abundance and uniformity than provided by a natural antibody

(61)Instability of the halogen (directly attached to a protein) due to biological process in the body, causing the halogen to dissociate completely

(62)MIRD-Medical Internal Radiation Dose Committee of The Society of Nuclear Medicine

(63)the surgical removal of organs, abnormal growths, or harmful substances from the body

(64)relating to the kidneys or the surrounding regions

(65)the wasting away of an organ or other body part, typically by defective nutrition or nerve damage

(66)convoluted tubule-the portion of a kidney nephron that concentrates urine and maintains salt and water balance

(67)compact clusters of capillaries in the nephron of the kidney that filter blood

(68)inflammation of a mucous membrane

(69)diethylene triamine pentaacetic acid

(70)ethylene diaminetetraacetic acid

(71)a chelating agent complexes metals by chemical bonding, allowing excretion of the metal plus chelate from the body

(72)any element of a series of rare-earth elements of atomic numbers 57 through 71

(73)firm, elastic, whitish types of connective tissue; also: structures composed of cartilage

(74)pertaining to the spinal cord or bone marrow

(75)polycythemia vera, a disease characterized by overproduction of red blood cells

(76)a joint effort of the International Commission on Radiological Protection and the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements

(77)an instrument for cutting very thin sections of tissue for microscopic examination

(78)analysis of radionuclides in the urine or feces

(79)a small, flat dish or plate used to support a sample for determination of radioactivity; the sample usually is evaporated on the planchette.

(80)too weak in energy to penetrate the lung for measurement by external (thoracic) detectors

(81)For the transcript of the interview with Richmond, see DOE/EH-0477, Human Radiation Studies: Remembering the Early Years; Oral History of Dr. Chester R Richmond, Ph.D. (scheduled to be published later in 1995).

(82)For the transcript of the interview with Totter, see DOE/EH-0481, Human Radiation Studies: Remembering the Early Years; Oral History of Dr. John R. Totter, Ph.D. (scheduled to be published later in 1995).

(83)a radioactive, metallic chemical element(Pa) having an atomic weight of 91

(84)a human injected with plutonium-238 and -239, one of the original eighteen plutonium injectees

(85)Interviewed August 9 and 17, 1994. For the transcript of the interview with Miller, see DOE/EH-0474,Human Radiation Studies: Remembering the Early Years; Oral History of Radiologist Earl R. Miller, M.D. (July 1995).

(86)time zero; at the start

(87)two of the three plutonium injectees at the University of Chicago's Billings Hospital

(88)In 1967 the AEC contracted with the Hanford Environmental Health Foundation (HEHF) in Richland, Washington for a National Plutonium Registry. In 1970, the name was changed to U.S. Transuranium Registry (USTR). USTR's function was to study postmortem tissues from exposed workers to determine the pattern of distribution, concentration, and retention of transuranic elements. The USTR currently is operated by Washington State University.

(89)For the transcript of the interview with Rowland, see DOE/EH-0461, Human Radiation Studies: Remembering the Early Years; Oral History of Dr. Robert E. Rowland, Ph.D. (June 1995).

(90)plural of metastasis, the spread of disease-producing organisms or of malignant or cancerous cells to other parts of the body by way of the blood or lymphatic vessels or membranous surfaces; or, the condition so produced

(91)pertaining to an endocrine gland, a gland such as the thyroid, adrenal, or pituitary gland that secretes hormones into the blood or lymph

(92)For the transcript of the interview with Friedell, see DOE/EH-0466, Human Radiation Studies: Remembering the Early Years; Oral History of Dr. Hymer L. Friedell, Ph.D. (scheduled to be published later in 1995).

(93)University of California, San Francisco

(94) Bay Area Rapid Transit, San Francisco's rapid-rail transit system

(95)an AEC uranium processing facility in Ohio at which former workers filed a class-action suit, claiming they had not been informed of the dangers of working with uranium; for a detailed discussion of the Fernald suit, see DOE/EH-0456, Human Radiation Studies: Remembering the Early Years; Oral History of Merril Eisenbud (May 1995).

(96)For the transcript of the interview with Moss, see DOE/EH-0459, Human Radiation Studies: Remembering the Early Years; Oral History of William D. Moss (June 1995).