SUMMARY OF AGENCY RECORDS RETRIEVAL
CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY
DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE
DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY
DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES
DEPARTMENT OF VETERAN AFFAIRS
NATIONAL AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ADMINISTRATION
CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY
History and Organization of the Central Intelligence Agency
The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) was created in 1947 by
the National Security Act, which also established the Department
of Defense (DOD) and the National Security Council (NSC). CIA
was modeled largely after the Office of Strategic Services, which
served as the principal U.S. intelligence organization during
World War II. The newly created agency was authorized to engage
in foreign intelligence collection (i.e., espionage), analysis,
and covert actions; it was, however, prohibited from engaging in
domestic police or internal security functions. Nonetheless, CIA
engaged in a program of domestic human experimentation from the
1950s into the 1970s.
CIA components most likely to have been associated with any
experiment are the Office of Scientific Intelligence (OSI) in the
Directorate of Intelligence; the Office of Security; the
Technical Services Division (TSD) in the then-Directorate of
Plans (DDP, now Directorate of Operations); and (at least from
1962) the Office of Research and Development (ORD) in the
Directorate of Science and Technology. Beginning in the late
1940s, OSI analyzed and disseminated foreign scientific, and
medical intelligence concerning the development and testing of
atomic weapons and interacted with DOD and the Atomic Energy
Commission (AEC) on these issues. TSD ran Project MKULTRA,
discussed below. Human experimentation was done prior to MKULTRA
by OSI and the Office of Security and, after MKULTRA, by ORD.
To date, CIA has found no records or other information
indicating that it conducted or sponsored human radiation
In response to the January 1994 presidential directive, CIA
conducted an agency-wide search for information about human
radiation experiments that it may have conducted.  At the
Committee's initial meeting in April 1994, CIA stated that the
search encompassed an electronic review of approximately 34
million documents, a manual review of 480,300 documents, and
nearly 50 interviews. CIA also stated that it had found no
documents relating to experiments conducted by other agencies.
The Committee, however, has since found records indicating that
CIA officers did participate in DOD groups in which human
radiation experiments, including those involving the placement of
troops at atmospheric weapons tests, were discussed and planned.
As discussed below, CIA is continuing to search for documents
relating to these and other activities.
Beginning in the early 1950s, CIA engaged in an extensive
program of human experimentation, using drugs, psychological, and
other means in search of techniques to control human behavior.
CIA has so far found no evidence that radiation experiments on
humans were part of this program. CIA documents and a 1963 CIA
Inspector General (IG) report, however, state quite clearly that
MKULTRA was a program "concerned with research and development of
chemical, biological, and radiological materials capable of
employment in clandestine operations to control human behavior."
(emphasis added) The IG report states that "additional avenues
to the control of human behavior had been designated . . . as
appropriate to investigation under the MKULTRA charter, including
radiation, electroshock, various fields of psychology, sociology,
and anthropology, graphology, harassment substances, and
paramilitary devices and materials." (emphasis added)  The
program included unwitting experimentation on humans with LSD
(lysergic acid diethylamide), brainwashing, and other
CIA's human behavior program originated in 1950 and was
motivated by Soviet, Chinese, and North Korean use of mind
control techniques. It began under the code name BLUEBIRD (and
was later known as ARTICHOKE) and was operated by the Office of
Security and OSI with support from other offices. MKULTRA
formally began in April 1953 as a special, clandestine funding
mechanism for DOD human behavior research. The program was the
subject of investigations by the Rockefeller Commission in 1975,
the Senate Church Committee in 1976, and hearings by Senator
Kennedy in 1975 and 1977; however, these committees did not focus
on radiation experiments, and no such information was found by
CIA has told the Committee that MKULTRA involved human
experimentation using every research "avenue" listed in the
MKULTRA document except for radiation.  The agency also noted
that most of the MKULTRA records were deliberately destroyed in
1973 by the order of then-Director of Central Intelligence
Richard Helms.  In early September 1994, the agency found a
document that summarized work done for ARTICHOKE, which states
that "[i]n addition to hypnosis, chemical and psychiatric
research, the following fields have been explored: . . .
7) other physical manifestations, including heat and cold,
atmospheric pressure, radiation." (emphasis added) Although
there is no indication from this document that radiation was
explored on humans directly, it makes clear that CIA did
"explore" radiation as a possibility for the defensive and
offensive use of brainwashing and other interrogating techniques.
In another MKULTRA project, CIA secretly provided funding
for the construction of a wing of Georgetown University Hospital
in the 1950s so that it would have a locale to carry out clinical
testing of its biological and chemical programs. Dr. Charles F.
Geschickter, a Georgetown doctor who conducted cancer research
and experimented with radiation therapy, acted as cover for CIA
financing.  CIA also tried unsuccessfully to enlist AEC to
cofund the project by appealing to its interest in Geschickter's
radiation research. Geschickter testified before Congress in
1977 that CIA money helped fund his radioisotope lab and
equipment. Thus, CIA money seems to have helped fund radiation-
related medical research as a cover for the agency's real
interest in chemical and biological research.
Records obtained from DOD and the Department of Energy (DOE)
and by Committee staff from the National Archives show that CIA
was represented in key DOD biomedical groups in which both human
experiments and experimental ethics policy were discussed and
planned. At least three CIA officers were members of DOD's
Committee on Medical Sciences (CMS) from 1948 to 1953 and
attended meetings and received the "program guidance" of the DOD
Joint Panel on the Medical Aspects of Atomic Warfare. As
reported elsewhere,  the Joint Panel was the center for
information gathering and planning for medical experimentation,
including human experiments, relating to atomic warfare; for
example, this panel helped coordinate the program of placing
troops in the vicinity of atmospheric nuclear weapons tests. In
1948 CIA also participated in discussions regarding the proposed
formation of an Armed Forces Medical Intelligence Organization,
during which it was suggested that CIA would be in charge of
foreign atomic, biological, and chemical intelligence from a
medical sciences viewpoint. 
CIA representatives on CMS worked for OSI (and its
precursor, the Scientific Branch). This office had principal
responsibility for analyzing and disseminating foreign atomic
energy intelligence. It chaired the Joint Atomic Energy
Intelligence Committee (JAEIC, also known as the Joint Nuclear
Intelligence Committee), an interagency body that helped
coordinate analyses and activities by Departments responsible for
monitoring foreign nuclear weapons programs. It also chaired the
interagency Scientific Intelligence Committee as well as the
Joint Medical Sciences Intelligence Committee, both of which
coordinated scientific and medical intelligence for the
Government. These two committees provided medical intelligence
to the Armed Forces Medical Policy Committee, which also played
an active role in planning and overseeing radiation research and
human experimentation for DOD. This office also worked on
Projects BLUEBIRD and ARTICHOKE; at least one of the officers who
attended CMS meetings also analyzed medical intelligence for the
Office of Security's human experimentation activities under
BLUEBIRD and ARTICHOKE.
CIA historically has employed the facilities of other
agencies, including DOD and DOE (and its predecessors) to assist
in agency research. For example, in 1965 CIA entered into a
Memorandum of Understanding with AEC's Lawrence Livermore
Laboratory to perform a number of projects for CIA's Office of
Scientific Intelligence. CIA has been asked to search for
documents specifically related to the work performed under this
agreement that might relate to human radiation experiments.
With regard to the history of CIA's ethics policies, the
MKULTRA experiment program gestated from 1951 to 1952. This was
the very period in which DOD's CMS, with CIA participation,
engaged in discussions that led to the Secretary of Defense's
1953 enactment of an ethics policy for human experiments based on
the Nuremberg Code. The relationship between these Nuremberg
Code discussions (and policy) and CIA's MKULTRA activities is a
subject of the Committee's inquiry.
Through the course of MKULTRA, CIA sponsored numerous
experiments on unwitting humans. After the death of one such
individual (Frank Olson, an army scientist who was given LSD in
1953 and committed suicide a week later), an internal CIA
investigation warned about the dangers of such experimentation.
Ten years later, a 1963 IG report recommended termination of
unwitting testing; however, Deputy Director for Plans Richard
Helms (who later became Director of Central Intelligence)
continued to advocate covert testing on the ground that "positive
operational capability to use drugs is diminishing, owing to a
lack of realistic testing. With increasing knowledge of the
state of the art, we are less capable of staying up with the
Soviet advances in this field." The Church Committee noted that
"Helms attributed the cessation of the unwitting testing to the
high risk of embarrassment to the Agency as well as the 'moral
problem.' He noted that no better covert situation had been
devised than that which had been used, and that 'we have no
answer to the moral issue.'" 
Following revelations of MKULTRA and other unethical CIA
practices, President Gerald Ford issued the first Executive Order
on Intelligence Activities in 1976, which, among other matters,
prohibited "experimentation with drugs on human subjects, except
with the informed consent, in writing and witnessed by a
disinterested third party, of each such human subject and in
accordance with the guidelines issued by the National Commission
for the Protection of Human Subjects for Biomedical and
Behavioral Research." Subsequent Executive Orders by Presidents
Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan expanded the directive to apply to
any human experimentation: "No agency within the Intelligence
Community shall sponsor, contract for, or conduct research on
human subjects except in accordance with guidelines issued by the
Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. The subject's
informed consent shall be documented as required by those
guidelines."  CIA has issued guidelines implementing the
Executive Order and has provided them to the Committee. 
The primary focus of CIA's initial search was records on the
use of ionizing radiation on humans by the U.S. Government. The
agency did not initially search specifically for information on
such topics as the 1949 "Green Run" release (an intentional
release of radiation in Hanford, Washington) or the activities of
the JAEIC, CMS, or Joint Panel on the Medical Aspects of Atomic
Warfare. Nor did CIA initially focus on activities of the Soviet
Union and other countries that may have prompted U.S. agencies to
consider human radiation experiments (e.g., when the Soviet Union
sent approximately 40,000 troops to a test area to conduct
military exercises 30 minutes after an atomic bomb test in Totsk,
Kazakhstan, on September 14, 1954).
In response to specific Committee queries, CIA has provided
documents that describe activities of the OSI. CIA continues to
search for records in light of five Committee requests. These
requests include: (1) records on CMS, the Joint Panel on the
Medical Aspects of Atomic Warfare, and other DOD and/or
interagency medical intelligence organizations involving human
experiments; (2) foreign medical intelligence records on human
radiation experiments; (3) records on work done by other
agencies; (4) records on ethics policies; and (5) records on the
Green Run and other intentional releases.
The Committee awaits completion of ongoing records searches
that CIA has been conducting on the above and other topics raised
by the Committee.
1 In contrast to all other agencies, CIA maintains custody of
virtually all of its records; only a small number have been
transferred to the National Archives and none to any Federal
Records Center. No publicly available index or inventory
describes the size and organization of the records that CIA
2 A redacted version of the IG report was reprinted in Joint
Hearings on Biomedical and Behavioral Research, 1975, before
the Subcommittee on Health of the Senate Labor and Public
Welfare Committee and the Subcommittee on Administrative
Practice and Procedure of the Senate Judiciary Committee,
94th Cong., 1 st Sess., at 877 (the complete report is still
classified); see also "Final Report of the Senate Select
Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to
Governmental Operations, Book I" at 389-90, 94th Cong., 2d
Sess., No. 94-755 (Apr. 26, 1976) ("Church Committee").
3 CIA did investigate the use and effect of microwaves on
humans in response to Soviet practice of beaming microwaves
on the U.S. Embassy but determined that this was outside the
scope of the Committee's purview. CIA also sponsored
radioisotope tracer experiments involving irradiated LSD and
other chemicals on laboratory animals as part of MKULTRA.
The Army conducted similar tracer studies on humans at
Edgewood Arsenal in Maryland during this period. Beginning
in 1967, CIA's Office of Research and Development and the
Edgewood Arsenal undertook a joint program for research in
influencing human behavior with drugs, which included human
experimentation (including on prison inmates) and was
performed by the same University of Pennsylvania researchers
who had performed the tracer studies. It is not know
whether the joint program included radioisotope tracer
studies on humans.
4 Helms testified in 1975 that he ordered the records
destroyed because "there had been relationships with
outsiders in government agencies and other organizations and
that these would be sensitive in this kind of a thing but
that since the program was over and finished and done with,
we thought we would just get rid of the files as well, so
that anybody who assisted us in the past would not be
subject to follow-up questions, embarrassment, if you will."
Church Committee, Book I, at 403-04.
5 CIA officials have suggested this reference to radiation
might have meant "ultrasonic radiation" because they found
another document in which the possibility of using
"ultrasonics and other radiant energy" was proposed and
rejected. This suggestion, however, seems unlikely because
the summary document also lists "sound" as a field that was
explored in addition to radiation.
6 The Geschickter Fund for Medical Research served as a
principal "cut-out source" for CIA's secret funding of
numerous MKULTRA human experiment projects.
7 See discussion in Part I of the Interim Report.
8 Although this organization apparently was never created, the
basic division of labor between CIA and DOD suggested here
seems to have been maintained by the Armed Forces Medical
9 Church Committee, Book I, at 402. The Church Committee
noted that "the project involving the surreptitious
administration of LSD... was marked by a complete lack of
screening, medical supervision, opportunity to observe, or
medical or psychological followup. The intelligence
agencies allowed individual researchers to design their
project. Experiments sponsored by these researchers... call
into question the decision by the agencies not to fix
guidelines for the experiments." Id.
10 Executive Order 11905 (Feb. 19, 1976) (Ford); Executive
Order 12036, 2-302 (Jan. 26, 1978) (Carter); Executive
Order 12333, 2,10 (Dec. 4, 1981) (Reagan).
11 One section of the most recent guidelines originally was
classified, i.e., HR 7-1a(6)(c)(4), but was declassified
upon the request of the Committee.
DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE
Five Components of the Department of Defense
Five relevant components of the Department of Defense (DOD)
have been involved in human radiation experiments: the Office of
the Secretary of Defense (OSD), the Department of the Air Force
(Air Force), the Department of the Army (Army), the Department of
the Navy (Navy), and the Defense Nuclear Agency (DNA). The
searches performed are described below.
Office of the Secretary of Defense
History and Organization
DOD replaced the War and Navy Departments in 1947. OSD,
established concurrently, consisted of the Secretary of Defense,
his deputies and assistants, and various advisory boards and
committees, including the Research and Development Board (RDB).
Responsibilities of the RDB included preparing an integrated
military research and development (R&D) program and coordinating
R&D among the military services. Under the former War and Navy
Departments, these tasks had been performed in part by the Office
of Scientific Research and Development (1942-1945), National
Research Council (1945-1946), and the Joint Research and
Development Board (1946-1947).
To accomplish its assigned responsibilities, RDB created
numerous committees whose members included military personnel and
civilians. There are at least three committees or panels whose
work is particularly relevant: (1) Committee on Medical Sciences
(CMS), (2) Joint Panel on the Medical Aspects of Atomic Warfare
(which reported to both CMS and Committee on Atomic Energy), and
(3) Committee on Human Resources.
With the disestablishment of RDB in 1953, its
responsibilities were apparently assigned to the newly created
Assistant Secretary of Defense for R&D for several years and then
to the Defense Director of Research & Engineering (DDR&E) in
1958. At least during the 1950s these offices had their own
advisory committees and panels. The records of at least three
such panels (i.e., CMS, Committee on General Sciences, and
Committee on Atomic Energy) may be of interest.
Another advisory board during this period, the Armed Forces
Medical Policy Council (AFMPC), drafted and recommended to
Defense Secretary Wilson the policy on consent for certain human
experiments that he adopted in February 1953. AFMPC succeeded
the Office of Medical Services in early 1951 but appears to have
been disestablished in 1953. At some point thereafter, the
office of the Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Health
was created, and it is believed that this office assumed some, if
not all, of the functions of AFMPC.
OSD reviewed and either approved or disapproved specific
programs and projects of the four military services and the
Defense Nuclear Agency and its predecessors (see below).
The initial DOD search did not encompass OSD. DOD agreed to
search OSD files at the Committee's request and has been engaged
in an effort to locate and retrieve the files of relevant groups,
as discussed above or further identified in the course of ongoing
search. Most records of the RDB's CMS, Joint Panel on the
Medical Aspects of Atomic Warfare, and Committee on Human
Resources that are in the OSD collection (Record Group #330) at
the National Archives (NARA) in Washington, D.C., have been
examined. Some significant records, however, are not in this
collection and may not exist. For example, although there are
verbatim transcripts of the meetings of CMS and the Committee on
Human Resources, only summary minutes exist for the meetings of
the Joint Panel on the Medical Aspects of Atomic Warfare. Most
records of AFMPC and its predecessors in this collection also
have been reviewed. OSD has also started to identify and review
pertinent collections in the OSD holdings at the Washington
National Records Center (WNRC) (Record Group #330); these are
estimated to comprise approximately 2000 boxes.
Most records of two RDB predecessors, the Office of
Scientific Research and Development (Record Group #227) and the
Joint Research and Development Board (Record Group #330), are
declassified and housed at NARA in Washington, D.C. The records
of the committees with jurisdiction over biomedical research must
be examined. Most of the records of the National Research
Council are either unclassified or declassified and housed at the
National Academy of Sciences in Washington, D.C. Similarly, the
records of the committees with jurisdiction over biomedical
research must be reviewed.
With respect to the OSD records at NARA, the following
remains to be done: 1) Committee Staff will complete the
examination of the records of the CMS, Joint Panel on the Medical
Aspects of Atomic Warfare, and Committee on Human Resources; (2)
Committee staff will complete the examination of the monthly,
quarterly, and annual progress reports submitted by the four
military services and Armed Forces Special Weapons Project
(AFSWP) to RDB; and (3) Committee staff will complete the review
of the records of AFMPC and its predecessors. For the most part,
these records are declassified.
With respect to the OSD records at WNRC (Record Group #330),
DOD must (1) complete the identification and review of any
relevant RDB records (including, among other things, any
correspondence files of the Joint Panel on the Medical Aspects of
Atomic Warfare and any verbatim transcripts of its meetings), (2)
complete the identification and examination of the pertinent
records of the Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for R&D and
DDR&E, (3) complete the identification and review of records of
any other OSD office that had any role in human experiments, and
(4) complete the identification and examination of any relevant
records of AFMPC and its successor(s). Committee staff will
assist OSD in this process. Most of the OSD records at WNRC are
still classified. DOD must also identify and review any relevant
OSD records still remaining.
Department of the Air Force
History and Organization
The Air Force was established in 1947 under the new DOD.
Prior to this it had been part of the U.S. Army under the War
Several Air Force components have been involved in
biomedical research, including the Office of the Surgeon General
(OSG), which has general oversight responsibilities. Another,
the School of Aviation Medicine (SAM), was a subordinate command
of the Air University in the 1950s and 1960s and is now part of
the Human Systems Center. A third component is the Medical
Centers attached to operational commands where clinical
investigations are conducted.
The Air Force provided a list of more than 600 human
radiation experiments, approximately 90 of which predate 1975.
Committee staff has asked the Air Force to provide available
backup material it has identified regarding pre-1975 experiments.
SAM was a primary sponsor of the majority of the pre-1975
experiments, and the Air Force has provided histories of SAM.
The Air Force reports that additional material is warehoused at
SAM's Texas facilities; however, records of many individual
experiments appear to have been destroyed or taken by the
With respect to headquarters documents, selected files in
the Secretary of the Air Force (Record Group #340) and
Headquarters, Air Force (Record Group #341) collections at NARA
and WNRC have been examined. All periodic and programmatic
histories of OSG have been examined, and pertinent portions
provided (this effort extensively involved the U.S. Air Force
Historical Research Agency).
The minutes, agendas, and reports of the panels and
committees of the Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) dealing with
biomedical research in Record Group #341 at WNRC have been
reviewed. SAB was established in 1947 and advises the Secretary
of the Air Force and the Chief of Staff on research and
In response to the DOD-wide January search directive, the
Air Force sought to identify experiments (and related
documentation) at field sites that may have conducted or
sponsored experiments. This effort entailed several queries to
all Air Force commands, including each individual clinical
investigation facility (Travis AFB, Lackland AFB, Keesler AFB)
and those conducting clinical investigation programs (Anderson
AFB, Wright-Patterson AFB, Scott AFB). Command historians, as
well as the Office of Air Force History, were also queried. The
Air Force reports that over 6,000 person-hours have been spent
reviewing selected files at the National Personnel Records Center
in St. Louis; the holdings at Strughold Library at Brooks AFB;
and the Geophysics Laboratory Library at Hanscom Field.
Further review may be needed of selected files in Record
Groups #340 and #341. The post-1953 records of OSG must be
located and reviewed. Committee staff will continue to work with
the Air Force to examine pertinent records of important
nonheadquarters commands, particularly SAM.
Although evidence exists that the Air Force received notice
when the Secretary of Defense issued his Nuremberg Code directive
in February 1953, little or no evidence exists of its
implementation in specific cases. The Committee believes that
the search will locate relevant materials on implementation.
The Committee also has asked the Air Force to search for
materials relating to (1) consent practices used for those
involved in flash-blindness tests and atomic cloud air sampling
activities conducted in connection with atomic bomb tests, and
(2) the development and application of a 1958 Air Force policy
regarding ultrahazardous research.
Department of the Army
History and Organization
The Army was established in 1947 under the new DOD. Prior
to this the Army was under the War Department, which DOD
One component conducting biomedical research was the Office
of the Surgeon General (OSG) and its many subordinate commands.
These commands included hospitals (e.g., Letterman General
Hospital in San Francisco) and research centers (e.g., the
Medical Research Laboratory at Fort Knox). Beginning in the
1940s, OSG created a Medical Research and Development Board to
review all biomedical research conducted by OSG and its many
contractors. It is not known how long the board existed, but in
1958 OSG established the Army Medical Research and Development
Command, which evidently had the same responsibilities.
A second component conducting biomedical research is the
Chemical Corps and its successor(s). The Chemical Corps
replaced the Chemical Warfare Service in the mid-1940s, and it in
turn was disestablished and had its responsibilities assigned to
the Assistant Chief of Staff for Force Development in 1963. At
least during the late 1940s and early 1950s, it appears that the
majority of biomedical research was conducted by or for the
Medical Division of the Army Chemical Center (one of three major
centers in the Chemical Corps during this period).
Another significant component might be the Scientific
Advisory Panel and any successor(s). In 1951 this panel was
established to advise the Secretary of the Army and the Chief of
Staff on R&D the Army should undertake. Its responsibilities may
have included R&D in the biomedical field.
In September 1994 the Army provided the Committee with a
listing of several hundred experiments. The Committee has asked
the Army to identify all pre-1975 experiments and provide all
available supporting documentation for each one.
With respect to headquarters documents, the Army currently
is reviewing the periodic and programmatic official histories of
OSG and the Chemical Corps and its successor(s) at the Center for
Military History. The tables of contents and relevant portions
of any of interest will be provided to the Committee. All
histories of the Chemical Corps and its successor(s) are
classified. With the exception of records from 1952 to 1953,
which could not be located, OSG records (Record Group #112) at
WNRC for 1951 to 1958 have been reviewed. OSG records at WNRC
for the years following 1958 currently are being examined.
In response to the January 1994 DOD-wide search directive,
the Army asked field sites that may have conducted or sponsored
experiments to identify them and the location of related data.
The Committee does not have a clear definition of the extent of
this inquiry yet.
The review of the histories of OSG and the Chemical Corps
and its successor(s), as well as the remaining OSG records at
WNRC, must be completed. Any OSG records at the National
Archives or still housed at OSG must be identified and reviewed.
The large collection of records of the Chemical Corps at
WNRC (Record Group #175) and any possibly still with a successor
must be identified and examined. (These include records related
to radiation warfare experiments conducted at Dugway, Utah, or
elsewhere.) The records of the Scientific Advisory Panel and any
successor(s) must be located reviewed.
In June 1953 the Secretary of the Army implemented in a
separate order the Secretary of Defense's Nuremberg Code
directive from earlier that year. A 1975 Army Inspector General
report details the extent of its implementation in research
involving psychoactive chemicals, but there is little
documentation regarding its implementation in research involving
ionizing radiation. The Committee has asked the Army to place a
priority on locating this material. The Committee has also asked
the Army (as well as other services) to provide all documents
related to human experimentation planned or conducted in
connection with atomic bomb tests, including documentation
relating to the biomedical components of tests, and consent
procedures for those involved in troop maneuvers, psychological
observation, body fluid sampling, or other human subject tests.
The Army has agreed to provide all such materials.
Department of the Navy
History and Organization
The Department of the Navy (Navy) was established in 1947
under the new DOD. Prior to this the Navy was under the Navy
Department, which DOD replaced.
One component conducting biomedical research is the Bureau
of Medicine (BUMED) and its many subordinate commands. BUMED
through the years has conducted research at its own facilities
and through contractors. A second component involved in
biomedical research is the Office of Naval Research (ONR). Most
of its research has been performed by contractors. BUMED and ONR
existed at the time the Department of the Navy was established.
A third component performing biomedical research was the Naval
Radiological Defense Laboratory (NRDL) which existed from 1946 to
1969. NRDL was established in the aftermath of contamination
problems experienced following the 1946 Bikini atomic bomb test
Baker. A fourth possible important component is the Naval
Research Advisory Committee. Established in 1946, its role has
been to advise the Secretary of the Navy and Chief of Naval
Operations on research and development. Its responsibilities may
have included advising on biomedical research and development.
The Navy has identified approximately 800 experiments, of
which about 150 predate 1975. (Additional experiments are still
being located.) The Navy provided the Committee with available
documentation on these experiments, but in many cases,
particularly for pre-1975 experiments, data are fragmentary. The
Navy and the Committee will work to identify further data on
The Navy reports that over 1,800 person-days have been
expended in the records search. With respect to headquarters
documents, relevant portions of the records of the Secretary of
the Navy in Record Group #428 at NARA and WNRC, and at the Office
of the Secretary of the Navy have been reviewed in part.
Relevant portions of the records of BUMED at NARA (Record
Group #52) and at BUMED have been reviewed in part. BUMED
histories have been examined. Relevant portions of ONR records
still housed at ONR have been reviewed. ONR records in Record
Group #298 at NARA and WNRC are being examined.
In response to the DOD-wide January search directive, the
Navy sought to identify experiments and related records at
numerous field sites. Selected files in the only known location
of NRDL office files (the NARA and Federal Records Center in San
Bruno, California) have been, or are being, examined. Certain
technical reports from NRDL's library were sent to the Armed
Forces Radiobiology Research Institute (AFRRI) and to the Naval
Surface Weapons Center in White Oak, Maryland, and they have been
reviewed. Unclassified NRDL histories have been provided.
However, the Committee understands that many other NRDL records
or reports were destroyed when NRDL was disestablished, and has
requested a report on this matter.
At the Federal Personnel Records Center in St. Louis,
records were examined on the following commands: Naval Submarine
Medical Research Center; Naval Hospital and Naval Submarine
Base, Groton; Naval Hospital, Chelsea; Naval Hospital, St.
Albans; and Naval Hospital and Naval Medical Research Institute,
Further review of selected records of the Secretary of the
Navy, BUMED, and NRDL may be necessary. Classified NRDL
histories were once housed at the Naval Historical Center.
Additionally, a review of the holdings of the Naval Historical
Center should be made for other relevant periodic and
programmatic histories, as well as relevant records collections.
The records of the Naval Research Advisory Committee must be
located and reviewed.
The Navy has found evidence of consent policies dating to
the 1930s. For the period through the mid-1960s, the Navy has
located documentation of this process for some experiments. Only
approximately six of these experiments involved ionizing
radiation, however, while the Navy reported over 100 such
experiments from this period. The Committee hopes that the Navy
will be able to locate further information regarding these
additional experiments, including information relating to any
Defense Nuclear Agency
History and Organization
DNA is the successor to the Armed Force Special Weapons
Project (AFSWP) and the Defense Atomic Support Agency (DASA).
Since the establishment of AFSWP in 1947, the responsibility
for biomedical research conducted for AFSWP and its successors
has lain primarily with a small medical division at the
headquarters. The Armed Forces Radiobiology Research Institute
(AFRRI, discussed below), has also had some responsibility in
this area. Again, except for AFRRI, biomedical research of
AFSWP, DASA, and DNA actually has been performed by a contractor
or another Government agency.
In the early 1960s. DASA assumed control of AFRRI from the
Navy. AFRRI has conducted almost exclusively research at its own
DNA initially identified approximately one dozen pre-1975
experiments. DNA's research has identified further experiments
funded or organized by DNA.
DNA has committed to reviewing all of its and its
predecessors' records (Record Group #374) at NARA and WNRC, as
well as those still housed at its headquarters and one field
command. Apparently, these are the only four repositories that
hold any such records, almost all of which are classified. A
number of relevant documents have been and are being declassified
and will be provided to Committee staff. Committee staff has
asked DNA, and DNA has agreed, to include any documentation
related to potential human experimentation connected with atomic
DNA reports that some records have been destroyed. A key
collection in this category is the contract files for the
biomedical research sponsored by AFSWP and DASA during the 1950s
and 1960s. Moreover, few records of some key offices (most
notably the medical division at headquarters) have been located.
DNA has examined all official periodic and programmatic
histories of AFSWP, DASA, and DNA, all of which are classified.
Tables of contents and pertinent portions have been declassified
and furnished to Committee staff, who, after reviewing them,
requested further portions. DNA has also provided the periodic
histories of AFRRI, as well as the minutes of the meetings of its
Board of Governors. All of these items were unclassified.
DNA is reviewing selected classified materials it has
collected that are connected to the histories of the nuclear
weapons tests prepared for the Nuclear Test Personnel Review
(NTPR) program. In conducting the DNA search, the Committee is
mindful of previous DNA (and DOD) work connected with the NTPR
program. That program sought, among other goals, to collect
documentation on U.S. nuclear tests; it also prepared a series of
test histories. Committee staff is availing itself of the public
NTPR materials and has asked for declassification of many NTPR
source documents that may remain classified.
Committee staff has received significant documentation as a
result of DNA's research, and, based on DNA's commitment, expects
provision of the remaining information in the immediate future.
DNA is preparing an index of the records at NARA, WNRC, and its
headquarters and field command. Based on the materials provided
from the search and this index, Committee staff will request
further information. The areas of the requests will include
specific biomedical experiments, intentional releases, and human
experimentation connected with atomic bomb tests.
DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY
History and Organization of the Department of Energy
The Department of Energy (DOE) is the successor to the
Manhattan Engineer District (MED), Atomic Energy Commission
(AEC), and Energy Research and Development Administration (ERDA).
MED was established within the U.S. Army in 1942 to build
the atomic bomb. Although biomedical research was conducted at
individual project sites from the first days of MED, in August
1943 the Medical Section was created partly to coordinate such
research. The biomedical research program was conducted both at
Government-owned, contractor-operated laboratories (e.g., Clinton
Laboratory, now Oak Ridge, and Los Alamos Laboratory) and by
contractors (e.g., the University of Rochester and the University
of California Radiation Laboratory). The Medical Advisory
Committee was created in mid-1946 to advise MED on a number of
issues, including future biomedical research programs that the
atomic energy program might adopt. In 1946, MED began to
distribute radioisotopes produced at Clinton Laboratory to
researchers outside of its own laboratories and contractors. The
Interim Advisory Committee on Isotope Distribution was set up to
advise MED on policies and guidelines in this area, including the
use of radioisotopes in humans.
AEC came into existence as an independent agency within the
executive branch on January 1, 1947. At the outset, AEC had no
division or office responsible for biomedical research. Early in
1947 the Interim Medical Advisory Committee (IMAC) was created to
advise AEC on its biomedical research effort, and most of the
existing programs and contracts simply were continued. The
Medical Board of Review, a successor to IMAC set up in mid-1947,
recommended the creation of a division specifically responsible
for biomedical research and a permanent advisory group of
physicians from outside the Government to assist that division.
Based on these recommendations, the Advisory Committee on Biology
and Medicine (ACBM) was formed in September 1947, and the
Division of Biology and Medicine (DBM) in early 1948. Under AEC,
the biomedical research program increased dramatically both at
Government-owned laboratories and at contractor sites. Virtually
all of this effort was managed and directed by DBM, with the
assistance of ACBM.
The Division of Military Application (DMA) had substantial
responsibilities involving the military use of atomic energy.
During the late 1940s, and possibly later, DMA had a Radiological
Branch that worked extensively in the radiological warfare field.
DMA funded some biomedical research in the 1950s concerning
fallout and also may have funded other biomedical research.
The distribution of radioisotopes grew rapidly under AEC.
Once production difficulties were overcome in 1947, distribution
was expanded to users in industry and agriculture. The Isotopes
Branch and its successors ran the isotope production and
distribution program. The Advisory Committee on Isotope
Distribution was created in 1948 to replace the interim committee
of the same name, and the Subcommittee on Human Applications was
established thereunder to set guidelines and policies for the
Isotopes Branch governing use of AEC-supplied radioisotopes in
humans. In 1958 the Advisory Committee on Medical Uses of
Isotopes succeeded the Subcommittee on Human Applications.
ERDA assumed most of the responsibilities of AEC in 1974;
the civilian nuclear power and isotope distribution functions of
AEC were transferred to the newly created Nuclear Regulatory
Commission. The Biology and Environmental Research Division was
established to continue the work of DBM.
DOE-identified experiments include (1) experiments
identified in the mid-1980s and included in the Markey report
and (2) further experiments DOE identified in June 1994.
Additional experiments are being identified by the DOE
headquarters Office of Human Radiation Experiments (OHRE), to
which DOE has given final responsibility for identifying
experiments. OHRE works independently, and in conjunction with
other DOE elements, to identify experiments. In mid-October, OHRE
reported that it had identified information pertaining to over 80
separate human experiments. Further DOE experiments continue to
be identified in documents provided by DOE and in other sources
located by the Committee.
In mid-October DOE reported that it had released
approximately 115,000 pages of documents. DOE has issued written
guidance to all DOE and contractor elements directing them to
search for all records with information about human radiation
experiments. The present aim of the search is to provide (1)
inventories of relevant record collections ("series
descriptions") and (2) copies of the documents. DOE created OHRE,
among other matters, to serve as a central collection point and
perform quality control.
Series descriptions are complete for Lawrence Berkeley
Laboratory, Argonne, and Oak Ridge; those for Los Alamos,
Brookhaven, Hanford, and Idaho are being revised. The series
descriptions indicate that approximately 75 percent of the
relevant collections are unclassified or declassified. Committee
staff has asked DOE to annotate series descriptions to indicate
which records therein have been reviewed.
In addition to MED and early AEC headquarters records at Oak
Ridge, numerous headquarters records remain at various DOE
headquarters offices and at the National Archives (NARA) and the
Washington National Records Center (WNRC) in the Washington,
D.C., area.  The relevant Oak Ridge and MED/early AEC
headquarters records at the Atlanta NARA in Record Group # 326
have been reviewed by DOE and Committee staff.
At the Committee's request, DOE is retrieving records
related to human experimentation from the universities involved
in the plutonium injection experiments (i.e., the University of
Rochester, University of California, and University of Chicago).
A number of records of interest remain classified. The
Committee has sought to limit and prioritize declassification
requests. Initially, the Committee asked DOE to locate and
declassify relevant files of the AEC's Division of Intelligence,
which were understood to include information on intentional
releases and "work for others" (e.g., experiments performed for
other agencies at DOE labs). Following an extensive search, DOE
reported that these files--through the early 1970s--probably have
been destroyed. At the Committee's request, DOE conducted an
inquiry and prepared a report on this matter.
Currently, the Committee has assigned priority to OHRE to
declassify portions of the periodic reports of AEC to the Joint
Committee on Atomic Energy (the congressional oversight
committee) and portions of the periodic reports of AEC's
divisions to the General Manager. A declassification request for
selected files in the 1947-1951 and 1952-1958 Executive
Secretariat files (i.e., the files of the five-member Commission)
has been made to the DOE declassification team at NARA.
With respect to headquarters materials, numerous collections
in the Washington, D.C., area must be reviewed. Where detailed
finding aids and inventories exist, individual files (instead of
entire boxes or collections) often can be targeted for review.
Committee staff will seek to work with DOE staff to assure the
timely and efficient review and retrieval of documents. Specific
collections of interest include the following:
O Isotope Branch (and its successors) - Despite an extensive
search by DOE staff, no collections of these records have
been located. However, some documents have been found in
other collections regarding the isotope production and
O Insurance Branch - Documents indicate that the Insurance
Branch may have been a driving force in the development of
rules relating to human experiments. Despite an extensive
search by DOE, the records of this Branch have not been
O Atomic Bomb Test Biomedical Planning Groups - DOE staff has
located, and will soon provide, the files of these panels,
which planned and reviewed biomedical research connected
with atomic bomb tests.
O Division of Military Application - Inventories for DMA
collections at WNRC and DOE headquarters have been provided.
Selected files in these collections must be reviewed and
relevant individual documents declassified.
O General Manager - The inventory for the General Manager
collection at the History Division has been provided.
Selected files in this collection must be reviewed and
relevant individual documents declassified.
O Office of General Counsel - Inventories have been furnished
for collections at WNRC and NARA, but there appear to be no
pertinent files there. The History Division has a large
collection for which there is no inventory, but DOE staff's
initial examination indicates that this collection contains
relevant materials. Selected files must be examined and
pertinent individual documents declassified.
O Commission Minutes - Committee staff has examined the small
collection of declassified minutes at the History Division.
The much larger declassified collection in Record Group #326
at NARA must be reviewed.
O General Advisory Committee - Committee staff has examined
the small collection of declassified agendas, minutes, and
reports at the History Division. The much larger
declassified collection in Record Group #326 at NARA must be
O Division of Biology and Medicine - Committee staff has
examined the declassified portions of the collections at the
History Division and the collection on fallout in Record
Group #326 at NARA. Both collections have files that must
be declassified. Inventories have been provided for these
and other DBM collections at NARA, WNRC, and DOE
headquarters. All other collections are completely
unclassified; selected files therein must be examined.
O Advisory Committee on Biology and Medicine - Summary minutes
of all ACBM meetings have been furnished, as well as some
O Executive Secretariat Files - Committee staff has examined
only a limited number of declassified files in the
1952-1958 collection in Record Group #326 at NARA. As noted
above, a declassification request is pending for other files
in this collection and the 1947-1951 collection at NARA.
Inventories have been provided for the 1958-1974 collection,
which is at the History Division; selected files must be
reviewed, and relevant documents declassified.
O Periodic Division Reports to the General Manager/Periodic
AEC Reports to the Joint Committee on Atomic Energy - As
noted above, these are being declassified by DOE and will be
O Individual Commissioner Files - These collections are at
NARA, WNRC, and at DOE headquarters. A small number of
selected files must be reviewed, and pertinent individual
There are some indications that a significant percentage of
the 1958-1974 records of the Isotopes Branch were transferred to
the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. If true, these might be in
Nuclear Regulatory Commission collections at a NARA or Federal
Records Center or possibly still at the Nuclear Regulatory
The Committee has requested the supporting documents used by
the Division of the Inspector General in writing the 1974 report
on the plutonium injections. DOE reports that it continues to
search for these documents.
While both headquarters and some laboratories had policies
governing informed consent beginning in the late 1940s, few
documents have been found thus far on the scope and
implementation of these policies. Committee staff believes that
DBM and Office of General Counsel collections, as well as those
of the Insurance Branch, might have pertinent information.
Finally, a number of unclassified periodic and nonperiodic
AEC publications must be reviewed. These range from AEC
semiannual and annual reports to congressional reports to annual
reports of the Oak Ridge Institute of Nuclear Studies.
In the field, series descriptions for several sites must be
revised. The progress in examining records varies: some sites
(e.g., Los Alamos and the Oak Ridge Operations Office) have
completed or nearly completed the initial review, while others
have not. Committee staff is working with DOE on targeted
inquiries at several sites, including Brookhaven, Los Alamos, Oak
Ridge, Richland, and the historic University of California
contracts. DOE is seeking to locate and review records of
several private and public institutions that performed important
biomedical research for the AEC (e.g., the University of
California at Los Angeles and San Francisco and the Universities
of Chicago and Rochester).
1 Records transferred to National Archives and Records
Administration are no longer under agency control. However,
DOE is committed to assisting the Committee in the
identification and retrieval of relevant collections.
DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES
History and Organization of the Department of Health and Human
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is the
Federal agency most directly concerned with public health and
health-related research. The landmarks for the organization as a
whole were the creation of the Federal Security Agency (FSA) in
1939, the establishment of the Department of Health, Education,
and Welfare (HEW) in 1953, and HEW's reorganization into HHS in
The U.S. Public Health Service (PHS), one of the five major
operating divisions of HHS, has conducted and sponsored radiation
research. From 1944 to 1967, PHS included the Office of the
Surgeon General, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the
Bureau of State Services (BSS), and the Bureau of Medical
Services. After reorganization in 1968, PHS--including NIH, the
Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the Health Services and
Mental Health Administration--reported to the Assistant Secretary
for Health and Scientific Affairs. Since 1973, HHS components
relevant to the Committee's work have included the Office of the
Assistant Secretary for Health (OASH), the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention (CDC), the FDA, the Indian Health Service
(IHS), and NIH. The two historically significant agencies for
radiation research within PHS are BSS and NIH.
BSS, historically responsible for industrial and
occupational health within PHS, began to study the biological
effects of radiation as part of research on worker and public
health. The studies were conducted by a component of BSS, the
Bureau of Radiological Health (BRH), which also served as liaison
to AEC and Department of Defense. BRH sponsored extramural
research related to radiation and its public health hazards. BRH
ran regional sampling and research labs, including the national
monitoring network for radioactive fallout from the atmospheric
testing of nuclear bombs, sampling and research laboratories in
Nevada and Alabama, the bone strontium sampling program, and the
national milk testing network.
NIH has been the major Federal sponsor of biomedical
research since the end of World War II and the dissolution of the
War Department's Committee on Medical Research (CMR), which had
previously sponsored such work. During the Korean War,
representatives of PHS participated in interagency working groups
that planned biomedical research of military relevance, including
the Joint Panel on Medical Aspects of Atomic Warfare. Today NIH
is one of the primary Federal sponsors for extramural biomedical
radiation research. Most of the significant applications to NIH
for radiation research funding were reviewed by the Radiobiology
(later Radiation) Study Section of NIH.
NIH's intramural research is conducted by various
institutes. Those of interest to the Committee include the
National Cancer Institute (NCI), which funded and conducted
radiation research related to cancer; the National Heart
Institute (now Heart, Lung, and Blood), and the National
Institute of Arthritic and Metabolic Diseases (since reorganized
into two separate Institutes). Moreover, in 1953 NIH created an
intramural research hospital, the NIH Clinical Center, and
centralized its intramural radiation research. The Clinical
Center had a radiation wing, in which radiation research was
NIH has sponsored a wide variety of radiation research
involving human subjects, particularly relating to cancer
therapy. Many of these research projects, probably including
those of greatest interest to the Committee, were reviewed by the
Radiation Study Section. There were also NIH satellite intramural
programs involving radiation research, including a Laboratory for
Experimental Oncology in northern California and work (likely
involving animal and instrumentation research only) performed
under a Memorandum of Understanding with the Clinton Laboratories
of the Monsanto Chemical Company.
The Bureau of Radiological Health also supported extramural
radiation research by contracts and with grants. The FDA's
Center for Devices and Radiological Health, the successor
organization to BRH, identified 18 experiments funded by BRH
that are relevant to the Committee's charge.
The HHS records most relevant to the Committee's work
comprise three sets of materials:
(1) records of extramural research funded by NIH and
(2) records of intramural research conducted by PHS
components (most significantly, work done at the NIH
Clinical Center); and
(3) organization and policy documents relevant to
program history, links with other Federal agencies
interested in human radiation research, and the history
of ethics guidelines for human subjects research
To date, NIH has in its computerized database only those
extramural research grant records since 1962. It plans to
computerize information on pre-1962 grants so that a specific set
of data items can be provided for such awards. NIH also is
developing a software program and creating electronic files that
will permit the search by radiation keywords of its early grant
awards. Another effort mounted by NIH involves matching names of
researchers who received radioisotopes with names of
investigators who received NIH research grants.
NIH staff manually reviewed 1,200 boxes of records at the
National Archives that may have contained information concerning
its pre-1974 sponsored research; seven boxes were deemed
potentially relevant. The Division of Research Grants (DRG) has
searched all historical files of its Office of the Director and
prepared an inventory of records found. Files of the NIH
Director's Office also have been searched for research conducted
by these investigators.
NIH and PHS (with contractor support) also have conducted a
targeted search of FSA, HEW, PHS, OASH, and NIH records at the
National Archives and the Federal Records Center for any
documents that may identify either pre-1974 research of
particular interest to the Committee or evidence interagency
radiation research with other federal agencies; this search is
ongoing. During a reorganization in 1971, FDA received BRH's
program and records related to its radiological public health
responsibilities. FDA reports that it has not conducted or
sponsored human radiation experiments, but FDA made approximately
26 boxes of BRH records available to the Committee.
NIH currently is refining a list of all awards in which
grant applications were reviewed by the Radiology Study Section
and its successors. Experiments involving ionizing radiation and
human subjects that were reviewed by other study sections before
1966 will not be included in this list.
For those experiments conducted by NIH scientists, the
Medical Records Department of the Clinical Center has records for
the 245,000 patients admitted to the Clinical Center since it
opened in 1953. Much of the Clinical Center's work is
experimental, and this experimental work includes
diagnostic/therapeutic procedures involving radiation. NIH
staff reviewed the Medical Board minutes and the Radiation Safety
Committee minutes from the Clinical Center. NIH staff is
developing a database of human radiation experiments conducted in
the NIH intramural program that will contain the protocols,
titles, investigators, radiation usage, and so forth. This
database will be provided to the Committee when it is complete.
Although the history of ethics policy development at NIH was
relatively well documented before the work of the Committee, HHS
has recently found documents concerning the evolution of consent
policy at the Clinical Center. These materials show the varying
perspectives of legal counsel and the medical board in the 1950s
concerning the need for formal consent documents for all patients
admitted to the Clinical Center.
In conjunction with the Committee's contemporary Research
Proposal Review Project, Committee staff has been working with
HHS staff to search the online CRISP (Computer Retrieval of
Information on Scientific Projects) database for abstracts of
extramural studies involving human subjects that were approved
and funded in fiscal year 1993. From this search, HHS generated
a preliminary printout of all fiscal year 1993 studies involving
ionizing radiation and a sample of nonradiation studies. In
addition, staff has received Request for Protocol Approval forms
(including abstracts) for fiscal year 1993 intramural CDC human
research studies, which are not available on CRISP. Abstracts of
intramural human subjects research from other HHS entities (NIH,
Agency for Health Care Policy and Research, and FDA) are
currently "in process."
NIH will continue to search and review its materials from
the National Archives and the Federal Records Center. Various
DOD documents from the 1950s indicate that the military consulted
PHS on the health and biological effects of ionizing radiation
(the contact points with the uniformed services appear to have
been their respective Surgeons General offices); Committee staff
will work with HHS to obtain memoranda and other correspondence
between PHS and defense organizations that would clarify the
nature of this consulting relationship.
NIH and Committee staff will refine the Radiation Study
Section and other experiment lists for both extramural and
Clinical Center research and will explore search strategies to
obtain the most useful, retrievable information on selected sets
of experiments from the refined lists.
With respect to contemporary human subjects research
conducted or supported by HHS, Committee staff will work with HHS
to review records of intramural research and facilitate review of
records of extramural research funded by HHS.
DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS
History and Organization of the Department of Veterans Affairs
The Veterans Administration (VA) was established in 1930
through consolidation of the Veterans' Bureau, the Bureau of
Pensions (under the Department of the Interior), and the National
Homes for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers. In the immediate post-
World War II era, VA's second Administrator, General Omar
Bradley, launched a major expansion and reorganization of VA's
medical services; this expansion included establishing the
Department of Medicine & Surgery in 1946. At that time the
director of medical programs, Major General Paul Hawley,
instituted residency programs and teaching fellowships in VA
hospitals and established the policy of locating VA hospitals
adjacent to, and affiliating them with, leading medical schools.
Hospital-based research began, increasing in scope during the
next decade. In 1988 legislation was enacted to elevate VA to
cabinet status; the Department of Veterans Affairs (also referred
to as VA) was established on March 15, 1989.
Today VA operates both nationwide health care and assistance
programs for veterans and their families (e.g., pensions,
disability compensation, vocational rehabilitation, education
payments, and life insurance) and 113 national cemeteries. VA is
divided into three main divisions: (1) the Veterans Health
Administration (the linear successor to the Department of
Medicine & Surgery); (2) the Veterans Benefits Administration;
and (3) the National Cemetery System.
The framework of VA's radioisotope/radiation research was
developed in the fall of 1947 with the establishment of a five-
member Central Advisory Committee on Radioisotopes that reported
to General Hawley. At its first meeting, this advisory body
recommended (1) the establishment of an Atomic Medicine Division
within the Department of Medicine & Surgery, (2) the
establishment of a Radioisotope Section within that Division, and
(3) the designation of the Atomic Medicine Division as
"confidential," directing attention instead to the existence of a
radioisotope program within the Radioisotope Section. Following
the adoption of these recommendations, the first radioisotope
unit opened in Van Nuys, California in February 1948. Seven
additional labs in Framingham, Massachusetts; Cleveland, Ohio;
Minneapolis, Minnesota; Bronx, New York; Hines, Illinois; Dallas,
Texas; and Los Angeles, California opened by year's end. That
number grew to 14 by 1951, to 33 by the end of 1953, and to 48 by
1958. From the outset, VA used radioisotopes for diagnosis,
treatment, and research.
Based on information from VA and other sources (e.g.,
documents received from other agencies) and based on the
Committee staff's independent research, staff thus far has
identified approximately 60 VA human radiation experiments during
the period from 1946 to 1974. In late September 1994, VA sent a
list of approximately 3,500 potential human radiation experiments
conducted by its researchers between 1956 and 1973; information
on most of these potential experiments is limited to title, year,
location, and (in some instances) name of investigator. In the
absence of additional information, it is unclear how many of
these 3,500 experiments actually are instances of human
radiation research. (The list appears to include duplications,
as well as some research involving animals.)
VA experiments were conducted in several areas. Based on
brief descriptions in the annual Medical Research in the Veterans
Administration, much of VA's radioisotope research involving
humans appears to have consisted of tracer studies (e.g., with
Iodine-131). Documents received from HHS and reference materials
on the history of nuclear medicine indicate that fallout research
with cesium and strontium was conducted in Hines, Illinois, and
(as part of Operation Sunshine) in Salt Lake City, Utah. AEC
materials indicate that total body irradiation occurred at five
VA sites. 
As to the conduct of classified experiments, VA lacks
original classification authority and VA staff has stated that it
knows of no pertinent classified documents. However, VA
apparently had such authority between 1951 and 1972 and could
therefore have independently sponsored or conducted such research
in the past. The West Los Angeles VA Medical Center was and
still is affiliated with the University of California at Los
Angeles' medical school, which has operated an Atomic Energy
Project (now known as the Laboratory of Biomedical and
Environmental Sciences) in conjunction with AEC/ERDA/DOE since
1947. The Committee has located documents that indicate that the
Atomic Energy Project was engaged in some classified activities
in the late 1940s and early 1950s; at present, it is unclear
whether these activities included human radiation experimentation
and to what extent (if any) VA may have participated in such
In addition to the above information about specific
experiments, the Committee has lists of several hundred journal
articles published by VA radioisotope/radiation researchers
concerning research projects that may be characterized as human
radiation experiments; these publications must be located and
VA records are maintained at VA medical centers throughout
the country, at regional offices, at its headquarters (Central
Office), and at Federal Records Centers and National Archives.
VA's search for documentation of human radiation experiments
began in early 1994 with a review of records then housed at the
Central Office. Due to the paucity of responsive documentation
at that site, the search was expanded to the field. A series of
directives to the approximately 170 field locations requested (1)
the completion of several surveys about radioisotope/radiation
research and radiotherapy and (2) the location and retrieval of
all pertinent records. The surveys did not expressly ask the
field sites to identify and/or quantify their human radiation
experiments; as a result, some responses merely included lists of
radioisotopes employed, some appended lists of pertinent
publications, and some attached descriptions of potentially
relevant activities. Based on information contained in these
survey responses and other sources, Committee staff identified an
initial subset of field sites from which all records were
In August 1994, VA began to review approximately 1,800 boxes
containing potentially relevant Central Office files that had
been transferred to the Federal Records Center; it expects to
complete its review of these materials no later than mid-November
1994. As of September 28, 1994, VA had transferred to Committee
staff approximately 13.5 cubic feet of records. On October 7,
1994, VA's Chief of Staff requested the assistance of the
Inspector General in the search for pertinent records.
VA has produced little documentation regarding specific
experiments. VA has produced policy manuals and annual reports
dating back to the early 1950s, but it has provided little
contemporary correspondence (e.g., to or from the Administrator
or General Hawley) or other early materials that might provide
context or information about actual implementation of policy.
Additionally, VA's decentralization makes the location and
retrieval of responsive documents difficult; many potentially
responsive documents likely would be held in the field rather
than in the Central Office, but retention policies suggest that
such materials may long since have been destroyed. Records
retention practices, however, may have varied among field sites,
and some investigators may have retained some records.
As discussed with VA, VA will follow several paths. First,
VA will complete its review of potentially relevant Central
Office materials now held at the Federal Records Center. Second,
VA will continue to seek additional information about and locate
documentation regarding its "confidential" Atomic Medicine
Division, so that the nature and purpose of that entity can be
understood. Third, based on an initial assessment by VA and
Committee staff, VA will be asked to seek more detailed
information about human radiation experimentation conducted at a
selected subset of VA medical centers. Fourth, VA will locate
documentation of its early ethics policies and practices
regarding human subjects research in general, and human radiation
experiments in particular.
The Committee will continue to work with VA to quantify the
universe of VA human radiation experiments. Further, Committee
staff will continue its archival research to learn more about
VA's work during the early years.
1 Those sites were Long Beach, California; Denver, Colorado;
New Orleans, Louisiana; Houston, Texas; and Wood, Wisconsin.
NATIONAL AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ADMINISTRATION
History and Organization of the National Aeronautics and Space
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) was
founded in 1958 as a civilian space agency, incorporating the
older National Advisory Committee on Aeronautics (NACA) and some
facilities and programs of the Department of Defense (DOD). NASA
inherited no significant life science programs, and developed a
centralized Office of Life Science Programs that operated briefly
from 1960 to 1961.
In 1962, NASA was reorganized along programmatic lines, and
life sciences programs were divided among three main programs:
the Office of Manned Space Flight, the Office of Space Science
and Applications, and the Office of Advanced Research and
Technology. The Office of Manned Space Flight was responsible
for astronaut selection and training, including medical
screening, and for biomedical studies on the effects of space
flight on astronauts, primarily through the Manned Spacecraft
Center in Houston, Texas (now the Johnson Space Center or JSC).
The Office of Advanced Research and Technology included studies
of astronaut life support systems. These life science studies
were conducted mainly through the Ames Research Center (ARC) at
Moffett Field, California.
In many cases, particularly in its early years when it had
limited intramural capabilities, NASA funded biomedical research
through contracts and grants. NASA also funded research on
radiobiology jointly with AEC and Air Force and, with some
pressure from Congress, developed a coordinated program in space
medicine with the Air Force.
A reorganization in the early 1970s led to some
consolidation of life science programs in the Life Sciences
Programs Division of the Office of Manned Space Flight. These
programs are now fully consolidated in the Office of Life and
Microgravity Sciences and Applications, which is responsible for
NASA's current review of records on human radiation research.
NASA's initial document search identified 189 publications and
reports describing human radiation experiments. From this list
and from personal contacts, NASA has identified six human
radiation studies--specific experiments or series of related
experiments--undertaken before 1974, and three broad categories
of research that it is now analyzing to identify individual
experiments. A complete list or accounting of NASA-sponsored
studies is not yet available.
NASA was involved in two types of human radiation research: (1)
studies to understand the effects of radiation in space on
astronauts, and (2) studies of other effects of spaceflight that
used radiation and radioisotope tracers as diagnostics. In the
first category, NASA and AEC developed a joint research agenda on
radiobiology, which included NASA support for total body
irradiation studies at Oak Ridge as well as several studies that
did not involve humans. NASA has also sponsored research on the
effect of radiation on the human eye and collaborated with DOD in
the study of space radiation hazards.
NASA was interested in other physiological effects of space
flight, particularly the effects of weightlessness. NASA
conducted its own studies and sponsored studies by others on the
effects of bed rest, which simulated some aspects of
weightlessness. NASA also funded studies to develop radiation
techniques to diagnose bone loss due to weightlessness in space.
In addition to its simulations, NASA conducted numerous studies
using astronauts themselves as subjects in order to observe the
actual effects of space flight.
In the area of intentional releases, NASA sponsored joint
research with AEC on nuclear- powered rockets -- i.e., the Rover
and NERVA projects. AEC conducted the Kiwi series of ground
tests of nuclear-powered rockets, with some human exposures to
the radioactivity released in these tests. It remains unclear
which NASA offices were responsible for the nuclear rocket
programs and what role, if any, NASA had in these field tests and
associated human radiation exposures.
NASA maintains records in a variety of forms. NASA's paper
records may be located in any of its program offices and field
installations, in internal records storage facilities, at Federal
Records Centers (FRCs), or may have been transferred to the
National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). NASA
maintains comprehensive indexes of records transferred by any
NASA installation to internal storage facilities, FRCs, and NARA,
but not for documents that remain in NASA program offices. NASA
has provided the Committee with complete listings of accessions
to NARA. NASA plans to search its indexes of all stored and
transferred records, identify potentially relevant records, and
review those records by the end of November 1994.
NASA has instructed officials throughout its organization to
locate all records related to human radiation experiments and has
requested employees, contractors, and grantees to do the same.
NASA has also searched those offices for specific files (e.g.,
files relating to the Oak Ridge studies), and has identified and
begun to search three specific collections: (1) a Space Life
Sciences Archive in Houston, (2) a collection within NASA's
History Office, and (3) a collection of files of the former chief
radiation safety officer at the JSC.
NASA's initial search included interviews, document searches, and
electronic literature searches of several databases, including
the RECON aerospace research database, the ARIN and NTIS
databases of NASA documents, and other public databases. The
database searches led NASA to identify more than 2,000
publications, from which 189 that were selected as relevant have
provided the most valuable documentary source of information on
NASA's human radiation experiments. Reviews of NASA records and
interviews with over 20 current and former NASA employees have
supplemented the literature search and provided additional leads
on human radiation research. Further leads have come from
responses to a letter sent to all current and former NASA
employees, contractors, and grantees requesting information on
possible human radiation experiments.
NASA has provided summaries of the specific human radiation
studies it identified, along with supporting documentation for
some of those studies. This documentation includes reports and
some correspondence regarding the Oak Ridge total body
irradiation studies, supplemented by some contract and financial
information provided by the Department of Energy. NASA reports
that it destroyed most documents pertaining to the Oak Ridge
studies in 1980, in accordance with standard records retention
NASA has provided the Committee with secondary and some primary
documents on its organization and history. These documents
include one overall history of NASA, summary reviews and/or
histories of NASA's life science programs and of the biomedical
research programs for Projects Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, and
Skylab. Primary documents include early plans and
recommendations for NASA's life sciences program, several reports
and reviews of those programs, and organizational charts.
The earliest records received on NASA's ethics policies on the
use of human subjects in research are from 1969. These records
document the formation in 1969 of the Medical Isotopes
Subcommittee of the Radiation Safety Committee at the Manned
Spacecraft Center and the revision in 1969 of the Ames Management
Manual for the operation of the Human Research Experiments Review
Board. NASA has also provided some indications of earlier
policies and practices, including references to consent
procedures and radioisotope licenses at the Ames Research Center.
In 1972, NASA established an overall policy on the use of human
subjects in research conducted by NASA that established approval
and oversight procedures and required written informed consent.
This policy was revised and extended to grantees and contractors
in 1986. NASA has provided some documents and other information
that describes policies and practices involving the use of human
subjects prior to the establishment of these official policies,
and is attempting to reconstruct this information for each of the
experiments it identifies.
The Committee has asked NASA to complete its identification of
individual experiments and provide a complete list with
supporting documentation. The Committee also has requested
additional information on biomedical studies involving astronauts
as subjects and the rules that governed those studies, beyond
what NASA has already provided.
Once NASA completes its review of records indexes, it will begin
to search selected paper records. This search will focus on the
following four areas:
(1) records pertaining to the cooperative agreement
between NASA and AEC on radiobiology research,
including the total body irradiation studies carried
out at Oak Ridge;
(2) records pertaining to joint research activities
between NASA and Air Force on aerospace medicine;
(3) records describing NASA's role with AEC in the
Rover and NERVA nuclear-powered rocket programs,
including any NASA participation in the Kiwi field test
(4) additional documents describing NASA's policies and
practices for the use of human subjects in research.
These would include documents describing policies in
place at ARC and JSC prior to 1969, policies in place
at other NASA field installations, any discussions of
human use policies at NASA headquarters prior to the
first agency-wide policy in 1972, and NASA licenses
with AEC for the use of radioisotopes.
Interim Report of the Advisory Committee on Human Radiation
Experiments, October 21, 1994