U.S. geneticist who pioneered research on health impacts of atomic bomb dies at 95

Kyodo

William Schull, a U.S. geneticist who conducted pioneering research on the health effects of radiation from the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, died Tuesday of lung cancer in Houston, Texas, people close to him said. He was 95.

Schull came to Japan in 1949, four years after the bombs were dropped in the closing days of World War II, as part of the Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission set up by the U.S. government.

He carried out a genetic survey of around 70,000 babies born in Hiroshima and Nagasaki and investigated the effects of radiation, including whether parents’ radiation exposure affected children’s development.

After returning to the United States, he amassed notes and other documents from U.S. scientists and doctors involved in the research and made them public in the ABCC collection established at the Texas Medical Center Library in 1986.

Schull served as professor emeritus at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston and was a former vice chairman of the Radiation Effects Research Foundation, a Japan-U.S. research organization that succeeded the ABCC.

Radiation Effects Research Foundation Chairman Otsura Niwa said the current genetic research on survivors would not exist without Schull.

“He was someone worthy of respect, who got very close to the hearts of the survivors in his research,” Niwa said.