December 16, 2010—AFRRI Golden Jubilee Homecoming
|Photo: Dave Morse (AFRRI)|
|Former and current AFRRI Directors gather at 50th Jubilee Homecoming
Front row from left: AFRRI Director COL Mark A. Melanson; Army COL (Ret.) David G. Jarrett (Director, 2003–2006); Navy CAPT (Ret.) Robert L. Bumgarner (Director, 1991–1995); and Army COL (Ret.) Robert R. Eng (Director, 1997–2003).
Rear row from left: Navy CAPT (Ret.) Eric E. Kearsley (Director, 1995–1997); AFRRI Scientific Director Dr. Christopher R. Lissner; Dr. Terry C. Pellmar (Scientific Director, 2002–2008); and Navy CAPT (Ret.) Paul E. Tyler (Director, 1979–1982).
On December 16, 2010, the Armed Forces Radiobiology Research Institute commemorated 50 years of discovery with a special Homecoming celebration. The all-day event drew an illustrious crowd, including several prominent alumni who provided rare and candid glimpses into AFRRI’s rich heritage.
Prior AFRRI Directors in attendance were Army COL (Ret.) David G. Jarrett (Director, 2003–2006), Army COL (Ret.) Robert R. Eng (Director, 1997–2003), Navy CAPT (Ret.) Eric E. Kearsley (Director, 1995–1997), Navy CAPT (Ret.) Robert L. Bumgarner (Director, 1991–1995), and Navy CAPT (Ret.) Paul E. Tyler (Director, 1979–1982).
Enewetak Cleanup Project
During his presentation, CAPT Tyler recalled early accomplishments under his leadership as AFRRI Director, including the Enewetak Cleanup Project.
AFRRI radiation experts helped to decontaminate Enewetak, a group of islands in the Pacific Ocean used for nuclear testing (1948–1956), so that local islanders could return to their homes safely, he said. AFRRI's Enewetak Cleanup Project (1977–1979) involved nine trips to the islands by the Institute's radiation specialists, culminating in the Enewetak Return Ceremony on April 8, 1980.
|Photo: Dave Morse (AFRRI)|
|In 2004, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency awarded its highest honor to AFRRI research microbiologists Thomas B. Elliott, PhD, (above, left) and Michael O. Shoemaker, PhD, for their work to help inactivate deadly anthrax spores from a Washington, DC, postal facility.|
Other speakers shared similar AFRRI triumphs.
"The labs were so crowded you could barely move," said researcher, Terry Pellmar, PhD. "But it was fun, and the focus was on doing good science."
Dr. Pellmar, an expert in radiation biology and depleted uranium, helped pioneer many breakthroughs in the early 1980s. She left to pursue other opportunities but returned in 2002 as the Institute's Scientific Director, a position she held through 2009.
September 11, 2001
The 2001 terrorist attacks on New York's World Trade Center and the Pentagon placed greater focus on radiobiological research for the prevention and mitigation of terror attacks using biological weapons. Dr. Pellmar said this shifted AFRRI’s focus from nuclear war to bioterrorism.
Other important events included the development of a reliable "kill curve," or the standard dosage of radiation needed to eradicate anthrax spores. This AFRRI-created formula was used to inactivate anthrax spores at a Maryland postal station where five people had died and several more were injured by anthrax-contaminated mail.
Several of AFRRI’s current scientists highlighted the significant research underway inside AFRRI’s walls today, from the development of delayed radiation effects to translational early-phase biodosimetry research.
"This is a time of renaissance," said AFRRI Director Army Colonel Mark Melanson, PhD. "We want to share our success story and continue our legacy for future generations of science."
In February 2010, the American Nuclear Society (ANS) designated the Institute a national nuclear historic landmark.
"This plaque [below] marks 50 years of important research in the field of radiobiology," said Jack Touhy, ANS executive director, addressing AFRRI employees and guests. Such research, he described, is important to providing a sound scientific basis for decisions critical to protecting the public and to advancing nuclear technology.
The Institute is among some 70 sites and facilities that have been recognized by the Society.