UCLA uninvolved in Cold War experiments Study says UCLA
uninvolved in Cold War experiments
Study investigates several colleges for possible connection
By Donna Wong
Daily Bruin Senior Staff
For the sake of science, UC San Francisco’s Dr. Joseph Hamilton
once injected unknowing patients with radioactive plutonium.
For the sake of the state, U.S. troops were led into nuclear
blast exposure to see what kinds of clothing fabric gave the most
protection from radiation.
And for the sake of justice, the government investigated UCLA
along with other universities that might have taken part in Cold
Earlier this year, secret government documents regarding human
radiation experiments during the 1940s Â the Cold War era
Â prompted the White House-appointed Advisory Committee on
Human Radiation Experiments to investigate organizations like NASA,
the CIA and UCLA among others.
As a result, Stafford Warren Â founder of UCLA’s medical
school in 1947 and head of the division of biology and medicine at
the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission Â came under investigation
by the committee.
Although Warren was affiliated with both the UCLA department of
radiology and the energy commission, files have shown that UCLA was
never involved in exposing "normal, healthy individuals to
radioactive materials without their knowledge or consent," Kumar
Patel, vice chancellor of research, stated in his letter to UC
President Jack Peltason.
The committee released it’s interim report Friday and is
planning case investigations of UC Berkeley and UC San
In the report, the committee addressed the ethical and
scientific criteria of human radiation experimentation carried out
by the United States government at these different
Piecing together various experiments Â many of which were
held secret over the years Â the committee is also committed
to rewriting the federal ethics policies regarding human radiation
that could affect ethics questions overall, said Denise Holmes, a
radiation committee member.
"I think that it was done then because of a total lack of
knowledge of the harm that could be done by radiation. Plus people
were more trusting back then." Dr. James Smathers, professors of
radiology and oncology said.
Taking into consideration a mid-century debate about the need
for human radiation experiments, some of the committee’s research
will determine what types of ethical criteria should be used to
evaluate human radiation experiments and the lessons to be learned
from past and present research standards, Holmes said.
Certain radiation experiments on children will also be carefully
investigated, said Lanny Keller, radiation committee member.
Many people would probably be opposed to any type of human
radiation experimentation now, but back in the fifties, most people
would probably not have known what to say, Smathers said.
And with advances in technology, people gained a whole new
perspective, scientists said.
But before scientists knew the dangerous long and short term
effects of unnecessary exposure to radiation, children would play
with the X-ray machines in 1950s shoe stores to see the bones in
their feet, physics Professor Art Huffman said.