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24 March 2015

In Memorium: Collegium Ramazzini Emeritus Fellow Marek Jakubowski

Emeritus Fellow of the Collegium Ramazzini Marek Jakubowski passed away on 14 March 2015 after a two-year battle with cancer.
Professor Jakubowski was a member of the scientific staff of the Nofer Institute of Occupational Medicine in Lodz, Poland, its Scientific Secretary and the Head of the Department Chemical Hazards. In his research he focused mainly on the toxicology of heavy metals and on the development of biological monitoring of environmental and occupational exposures.
For the last few years he was the principal investigator of a research project aimed at the evaluation of health risks from exposure to cadmium, manganese and volatile organic compounds, supported by the Polish Government. He was also coordinator of research carried out in Poland and financed by the European Commission such as Gene polymorphism and biomonitoring of styrene, Development of a coherent approach to human biomonitoring in Europe, and by the European Chemical Industry Council on Biological monitoring of exposure- trends and key developments.
Professor Jakubowski was a member of the WHO task groups developing the Air Quality Guidelines for Europe and documents on the Health Risk of Heavy Metals and POPs from Long range Transboundary Air Pollution. He belonged to the ICOH Commission on Occupational Toxicology and the served as head of the commission preparing scientific documentation of Occupational Exposure Limits in Poland. He published over 120 scientific articles and book chapters (e.g. in Patty's Toxicology and Handbook on the Toxicology of Metals). He fully retired from the Institute two years ago.
Marek Jakubowski will be remembered as an excellent scientist and a colleague who gave great satisfactions to all those who were fortunate to cooperate with him or work under his leadership.
Marek is survived by his beloved wife Elzbieta, two sons and four grandchildren.

10 March 2015

The Collegium Ramazzini publishes its 17th position statement: Most Types of Cancer are Not Due to Bad Luck

The Collegium Ramazzini has published its 17th position statement entitled "Most Types of Cancer are Not Due to Bad Luck". The full text of the document and references may be downloaded here.

The Collegium Ramazzini strongly rejects the claim by Tomasetti and Vogelstein that 65% of cancers are due to "bad luck" and result from randomly acquired mutations of the genome (Tomasetti and Vogelstein 2015b). This claim is based on a skewed and highly selective reading of the literature. It examines only a fraction of cancers - 34% - in a single country - the United States (Wild et al. 2015). It ignores enormous differences in cancer incidence and mortality across countries (Wild et al. 2015) (Potter and Prentice 2015). It dismisses abundant clinical and epidemiological research that has discovered scores of environmental and occupational carcinogens to which millions of persons are exposed (Wild et al. 2015). It ignores the very great successes in cancer prevention that have been achieved by controlling exposures to known carcinogens (Ashford et al. 2015; Gotay et al. 2015; Potter and Prentice 2015; Song and Giovannucci 2015; Wild et al. 2015).

The spurious claim of Tomasetti and Vogelstein poses grave danger to public health. It has the potential to undermine governmental programs for cancer prevention and also to discourage individuals from making wise decisions to change lifestyle, diet, and other factors that can reduce exposures to carcinogens.

In rejecting the unsubstantiated claim by Tomasetti and Vogelstein, the Collegium Ramazzini is proud to join the International Agency for Research on Cancer (Wild et al. 2015) and distinguished scientists from around the world (Ashford et al. 2015; Gotay et al. 2015; Potter and Prentice 2015; Song and Giovannucci 2015). We fully endorse the IARC critique of the Tomasetti-Vogelstein report (Wild et al. 2015).

Finally, the Collegium Ramazzini notes that Tomasetti and Vogelstein failed to disclose potentially important financial conflicts of interest (Tomasetti and Vogelstein 2015b).

26 February 2015

In Memorium: Collegium Ramazzini Emeritus Fellow and Past President Arthur C. Upton (1923-2015)

Emeritus Fellow and Past President of the Collegium Ramazzini Dr. Arthur Canfield Upton passed away on 14 February 2015. Dr. Upton was internationally recognized for his research on the health effects of ionizing radiation and other hazardous environmental agents. Born on February 27, 1923, in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where he spent his childhood, he graduated from Phillips Academy, Andover, MA, and, subsequently, from the University of Michigan, from which he received both the bachelor's and medical degrees (1944 and 1946 respectively).

Following his internship in medicine and residency in pathology at the University of Michigan, he entered the field of experimental pathology, serving successively as Chief of the Pathology-Physiology Section of the Biology Division of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (1954-1969), Professor of Pathology, State University of New York at Stony Brook (1969-1977), Dean, School of Basic Health Sciences, State University of New York at Stony Brook (1970-1975), Director, National Cancer Institute (1977-1980), Professor of Environmental Medicine and Director of the Institute of Environmental Medicine, New York University School of Medicine (1980-1992), Clinical Professor of Pathology and Radiology, University of New Mexico School of Medicine (1992-1995), and Clinical Professor of Environmental and Community Medicine, The University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey- Robert wood Johnson Medical school (1995-).

In the course of his career, Dr. Upton published nearly 400 articles, books, and technical reports on the health effects of ionizing radiation and other hazardous environmental agents, and he held leadership positions on the principal national and international professional organizations concerned with the prevention and medical management of such effects, serving as President of the American Association for Cancer Research, the American Society for Experimental Pathology, the Radiation Research Society, and the International Association for Radiation Research. He was a founding member of the Collegium Ramazzini and served as its President from 1992-2002.

In recognition of his contributions, he was elected to the Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Sciences, and received many other honors, including the E.O. Lawrence Award, the Lovelace Medical Foundation Award for Excellence in Environmental Research, Honorary Membership in the Peruvian Oncology Society, the Japanese Cancer Association, the New York Academy of Sciences, and the American Registry of Pathology, and the Distinguished Achievement Award of the Society for Risk Analysis

Dr. Upton is survived by his wife, three children, nine grandchildren and seven great grandchildren.

23 February 2015

In Memorium: Collegium Ramazzini Fellow Maths Berlin (1932-2015)

It is with great sadness that we announce the death of Collegium Ramazzini Fellow, Professor emeritus MD, PhD Maths Berlin on January 26, 2015 at the age of 83.

Maths Berlin presented his doctoral thesis on mercury toxicology in 1963 at Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm. He was an Associate professor and deputy head of the department of Environmental health at the National Institute of Public Health 1963-1967. During this time, he also spent a year as a visiting professor at the University of Rochester in Rochester, NY, USA. In1967 he was appointed as a full professor of environmental medicine and chairman of the Department of Environmental Hygiene at the University of Lund in Lund Sweden. His doctoral thesis and his subsequent experimental research was pioneering in introducing a scientific approach to understanding metal metabolism. Important fundamental toxicological differences among various chemical forms of mercury were demonstrated. This information has been of great importance within metal toxicology and human health risk assessment. In Lund his research in environmental medicine also included research on benzene and sleep disturbances from noise in addition to his experimental research on mercury. Maths Berlin was engaged and instrumental in getting WHO approval for the epidemiological studies on prenatal exposures to methyl mercury from fish consumption in the Seychelles. This research has been performed mainly by the University of Rochester team of scientists and continues to this day. Even in the last year of his life, Maths Berlin was actively performing research on another aspect of mercury toxicology namely the immunological effects in humans of mercury released in dental practice.

Maths Berlin was on leave from Lund University from 1983-88 when he worked for the World Health Organization (WHO) at the MARC Monitoring and Assessment Centre, University of London, UK. He served as chairman or member of a number of WHO criteria documents on metals during this period.

Maths Berlin participated in a number of international workshops organized by WHO and/or the Scientific Committee on the toxicology of metals, ICOH, where research results were summarized and consensus conclusions were published as books and reports. These reports have had a major influence on the development of risk assessment methods in occupational and environmental medicine and public health. In the last year of his life Maths Berlin completed the new chapter on Mercury for the 4th edition of the Handbook on the Toxicology of Metals, published 2015.

Maths Berlin belonged to the first Fellows invited by Irving Selikoff and Cesare Maltoni to form the Collegium Ramazzini in 1983. During more than 25 years he attended more annual meetings than most other Fellows and generally did so with his wife Margaretha. He always took an active part in the discussions of the Council and in the Scientific meetings with his explicit and well founded opinions.

Several Ramazzini colleagues were his close friends and some collaborated with him scientifically and in risk assessment. We will remember him as a great scientist and a reliable and good friend. Maths was also a great sports enthusiast, golf in the summer and curling in the winter were his favorites. We extend our deepest sympathy to his family and the wide network of colleagues who held him in such high regard.

Anders Englund and Gunnar Nordberg
Fellows of the Collegium Ramazzini

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