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James V. Neel is one of world's premier geneticists. He has contributed to the field of human genetics as a scientist, physician, professor, consultant and administrator. He received his Ph.D. as well as M.D. from the University of Rochester in New York. He completed his residency at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester, New York. Dr. Neel has been affiliated with the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor for nearly fifty years. Since 1985, he has served as the Lee R. Dice Distinguished University Professor Emeritus of Human Genetics and Professor Emeritus of Internal Medicine, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. He has served and continues to serve on the committees of a number of national and international institutes, governmental agencies and organizations.
Dr. Neel donated his papers to the Harris County Medical Archive in August and November of 1994. The materials are a result of his association with the Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission. Dr. Neel served as the Acting Director of Field Studies for the Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission, September 3, 1947 to March 13, 1948 and as a consultant to the Radiation Effects Research Foundation. About half of the material is correspondence, memos for the record and minutes of meetings. The other half reflects Dr. Neel's genetic research. Much of the early data was used by Dr. James V. Neel and Dr. William J. Schull to write their 1956 monograph on the children of a-bomb survivors.
An equal amount of material stems from his association with the Radiation Effects Research Foundation, the successor organization of the ABCC. Historically, there is absolute continuity between the two organizations. Presumably, an historian of the foundation of the ABCC could not avoid following some of the early developments under ABCC to their logical conclusion under RERF.
Dr. Neel's collection is one of the largest and most complete of the ABCC Collections held by the Houston Academy of Medicine-Texas Medical Center Library (29 boxes/ 11 linear feet). The collection is open for research. Individuals interested in using the collection should contact the Director of the Historical Research Center or the Coordinator for the ABCC Collections.
James Van Gundia Neel was born on March 22, 1915 in Hamilton Ohio, the eldest of three children. After the death of his father in 1925, the Neel family moved from Detroit to Wooster, Ohio. At the tender age of 16, James Neel began taking courses at Wooster College. While there he studied under Professor Warren P. Spencer. It was there he discovered what he wanted to do for the rest of his life. Recently he wrote: "I can still recall my sense of excitement when I glimpsed for the first time the orderly processes that undergird the tremendous diversity of nature." (1) In 1935, he received his Bachelor of Arts degree.
He continued his studies at the University of Rochester in New York. Dr. Curt Stern was his mentor. Dr. Stern had escaped Nazi Germany and was the principal contributor to the Drosophila literature. In fact, James Neel was his first Ph.D. student. His dissertation was entitled "The Interrelations of Temperature, Body Size, and Character Expression in Drosophila. II. The Pattern of Supernumerary Macrochaetae in Certain Drosophila Mutants." He was awarded a doctorate in 1939. Upon receiving his degree he accepted a post at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire and taught courses in introductory biology and genetics. His graduate training continued with a National Research Council Fellowship in Zoology at Columbia University, 1941-1942 and as Cramer Fellow at Dartmouth College, 1942-1943.
Dr. Neel began his medical education at the University of Rochester at the age of 27. While completing his studies he met and courted Priscilla Baxter. They were married on May 6, 1943. Because World War II accelerated the schedule of medical education he graduated in September of 1944 with a Doctor of Medicine degree. Dr. Neel completed a one year internship in internal medicine. He served his residency at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester, New York.
During World War II Dr. Neel served in the U.S. Army as a Lieutenant from 1943-1944 and 1946-1947. Upon completion of his military commitments he and his family moved to Ann Arbor, Michigan where he accepted a post at the University of Michigan. Ann Arbor proved to be an ideal setting,"...the juxtaposition of a good large university with a small town."(2) It remains home for the Neels to this day.
Dr. Neel has been dedicated to the University of Michigan for nearly fifty years. His first appointment was Assistant Geneticist to the Laboratory of Vertebrate Biology, 1946-1948. Dr. Neel quickly rose to the post of full professor in the Department of Internal Medicine and the Department of Human Genetics in the University of Michigan Medical School. He served as the Chairman of the Department of Human Genetics, 1956-1981. In 1985, he was appointed Lee R. Dice Distinguished University Professor Emeritus of Human Genetics and Professor Emeritus of Internal Medicine, University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor.
Dr. Neel is a leader in the study of human genetics. His research and scientific activities have taken him all over the world. He was the Acting Director of Field Studies for the Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission, September 3-1947 to March 31-1948. At present, he is a sometime consultant to the Radiation Effects Research Foundation, Hiroshima, Japan. He has served in a variety of posts for over fifty national and international institutes, governmental agencies and organizations. Noted here are three such committees: Member, Council on Biology in Human Affairs, Salk Institute, 1971-1975; Health and Environmental Research Advisory Committee, Department of Energy, 1984-1985; Chairman, Ad Hoc Expert Committee on Radiation (Effects of Radiation on Human Heredity), World Health Organization, July-August, 1958. His committee participation in the field of genetics and atomic radiation are well known.
He also serves on the editorial board of a number of human genetic and biological journals. Listed here are the publications : Blood, 1950-1961 (Advisory Board); Perspectives in Biology and Medicine, 1956-present; Life Sciences, 1963-1970; Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 1967-1972; (Associate Editor) 1968-1972, Behavioral Genetics, 1969-1970; Mutation Research, 1964-1975; Journal of Molecular Evolution, 1969-1980; Journal of Human Evolution, 1970-1982; Clinical Genetics, 1970-present; Genetic Epidemiology, 1984-present; Gene Geography, 1984- present; Blood Cells, Molecules, and Diseases, 1994-present. He has written, edited or co-authored a dozen books and written over 400 articles.
For his outstanding scientific contributions Dr. Neel has been given nearly thirty honors and awards. For example the 1960 Lasker Award American Public Health Association; Allan Award, American Society of Human Genetics; 1975 National Medal of Science; 1984 Michigan Scientist of the Year; 1991 George and Marie Andros Lecture, University of Chicago School of Medicine; 1995 James D. Bruce Award, American College of Physicians.
He has also been elected to several learned societies. They are: American College of Physicians (1960); Laureate Award (1987), Association of American Physicians (1962), National Academy of Science (1963); Council (1970-1973), National Philosophical Society (1965); American Academy of Arts and Sciences (1971); Membership Committee (1988-1990), Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Sciences (1972); Chairman, Program Committee, (1974-1975); Royal Society of Medicine (1992), American College Of Medical Genetics, Honorary Fellow (1993). Dr. Neel has also been awarded honorary Doctorates of Science from College of Wooster, Wooster, Ohio (1959), University of Rochester, Rochester, New York (1974) and the Medical College of Ohio, Toledo, Ohio.
Dr. Neel has been a member and/or officer in twelve professional societies. Phi Beta Kappa, Sigma Xi, University of Michigan Chapter, Council (1953-1955); President(1971-1973);Alpha Omega Alpha; Genetics Society of America; American Society of Human Genetics, Board of Directors 19948-1950); Vice President (1952-1953); President (1953-1954); Boards of Directors (1968-1970); American Federation for Clinical Research; American society of Naturalists; American Genetic Association, Japan Society of Human Genetics; Brazilian Society of Genetics (corresponding members) Brazilian Academy of Sciences (corresponding members); International Genetic Epidemiology Society, President (1991-1993).
Dr. Neel continues to write, lecture and conduct research. His most recent book is Physician to the Gene Pool. He also is a sometime consultant to several organizations e.g. U.S. Veterans Administration, Pan American Health Organization and Radiation Effects Research Foundation. He and his wife, Priscilla, enjoy the arts, entertaining colleagues, spending time their three grown children - Frances, James Jr. and Alexander - other family members and traveling.
1. Neel, J.V. Physician to the Gene Pool. New York : John Wiley & Sons, 1994. p. 1. 2. Ibid, p.13
The James V. Neel Collection includes significant documents of every phase of his association with the Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission and the Radiation Effects Research Foundation. The papers are both scientific and administrative. Dr. Neel served as the Acting Director of Field Studies for the ABCC. Organized by agency and subject, these records provide vital information on the foundation,(established November 25, 1946) and the day-to-day operation of the ABCC. A large portion deals with his genetics research conducted in Japan. Clearly illustrated is his pre-eminence in the field of human genetics. The strength of the collection lies in the primary source documents, including correspondence with ABCC members, government officials and military personnel, staff rosters, budgets and field reports. The Neel collection is arranged in nine series:
|I.||ABCC Communication and Correspondence - Incoming|
|II.||ABCC Communication and Correspondence - Outgoing|
|III.||CMAC Committee on Atomic Casualties|
|VI.||ABCC and NRC|
|VIII.||ABCC and RERF|
|IX.||Manuscript - Physician to the Gene Pool|
The individual series are arranged chronologically and alphabetically where applicable. The collection arrived with some sections organized. Where possible, the initial organization was retained.
The collection includes correspondence with individuals, government departments and agencies from the United States and Japan, the National Research Council, National Academy of Science, Committee on Atomic Casualties, National Academy of Engineering, memoranda, minutes, forms, reports, laboratory notes, surveys, manuscripts, scientific publications, agency and department publications, agendas, lectures and addresses, administrative records, charts, graphs and photographs. There are some documents written in Japanese and a few in both English and Japanese.
Dr. Neel's Collection included a very limited number of photographs. The majority corresponds to reports, articles or lectures. Only two sets of photographs accompanied incoming correspondence. Most are black and white glossy photoprints of texts, graphs, charts and other data. For continuity, they were left with their respective reprints, lab notes, manuscripts and conference documents. Their placement is clearly noted in the following inventory.
I. ABCC Communication and Correspondence - Incoming 6 Boxes
The correspondence in this series date from 1946 through 1969. The letters are arranged chronologically. Dr. Neel has provided a partial list of correspondents from 1947-1948. Two letters have enclosed photoprints. They remain with the letters. Letters, bulletins, telegrams, phone messages, and memos are filed here. The documents describe the establishment, daily operation and changes in the Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission.
II. ABCC Communication and Correspondence - Outgoing 3 Boxes
The communication and correspondences in this series date from 1946 through 1955. Like the incoming materials this series is arranged chronologically. Dr. Neel has provided a partial list of correspondents for the years 1946 through 1948. Included are numerous forms of communications e.g. letters, postcards, announcements, memos, phone logs and telegrams.
III. CMAC Committee on Atomic Casualties 2 Boxes
This series only contains minutes from the meetings of Committee on Atomic Casualties. The CMAC served as an advisory committee. It was established in 1947 and functioned until 1975. In the organizational hierarchy the Committee on Atomic Casualties reported directly to the Division of Medical Sciences of the National Academy of Sciences-National Research Council. The Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission was under the CMAC. Thomas Rivers, a virologist was head of the committee and Dr. Philip S. Owen served as the Executive Director of the CMAC.
IV. Hematology 1 Box
In the ABCC the departments were divided between two large divisions : clinical investigation and laboratory investigation. The hematology department reported to the laboratory investigation division. This small research series is composed of materials from hematology programs number one and two. Genetic and Hematological studies at the ABCC began simultaneously. Dr. James V. Neel and Dr. Fred Snell headed the hematology research. Dr. Snell was a clinician. After his association with the ABCC, Dr. Snell went to the Medical School of the State University of New York at Buffalo. The first program researched the recovery and the failure of recovery of the hematological system of exposed people. Those with radiation sickness and those not exposed in Kure were examined. This study was repeated with samples from both groups. Scholars studying radiation science and radiation medicine will find this series particularly interesting.
V. Research 1 Box
The research in this series highlights Dr. Neel's investigation of mentally retarded children in Nagasaki. Included are lectures, notes, statistics and reports. This small study was begun by Dr. James N. Yamazaki in late 1949. The case findings were established by identifying pregnant exposed women registered in the genetics program. Those fetuses exposed in utero were examined. Clinical studies had shown the dangers of limited radiation exposure. Initially, no strong statement was issued about the elevated exposure. It was reasonable to presume the increased radiation levels created more danger of stillbirths, abortion and deaths for pregnant women. The expanded study allowed ABCC scientists to issue more definitive statements. Fetuses and children exposed to even low-level radiation would likely suffer arrested brain development. At 100 rads, mental retardation is almost certain. Dr. Yamazaki was the physician in charge of the ABCC in Nagasaki from 1949 to 1951. He later went to the University of California at Los Angeles as a clinical pediatrician. He also was involved in montioring several hundred Marshallese people who were exposed to radioactive fallout from a 1954 atomic bomb test at Bikini Atoll.
VI. ABCC and NRC 1 Box
Memoranda and reports issued by the ABCC are filed in this series. Included are materials compiled by the NAS (National Academy of Sciences), the NRC (National Research Council) and NAE (National Academy of Engineering) from 1963-1971. The ABCC was jointly sponsored by the United States National Research Council and the Japan National Institute of Health - Ministry of Health and Welfare. The NAS-NRC is a private non-profit organization of scientists, dedicated to the furtherance of science and to its use for the general welfare. The NAS was established in 1863 under Congressional Charter signed by President Abraham Lincoln. The NAS is not a governmental agency. The NRC was established by the NAS in 1916 during the Wilson Administration. The NRC can be thought of as the operating agency under the NAS.
VII. Genetics Research 8 Boxes
This is the largest series in Dr. Neel's collection. Included are genetics data, vital statistics, long and short forms (in English and Japanese), questionnaires (in English and Japanese), reports, laboratory notes, maps, documents from a number of programs. Under the leadership of Dr. Neel between, 1948 and 1953 more than 71,000 pregnancies were identified in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Home visits were conducted by the ABCC physicians shortly after birth and again at 9 months of age. Such features as stillbirths, malformations, birth weights, and sex ratio were looked at in relation to the parental radiation exposure.
VIII. ABCC and RERF 7 Boxes
The ABCC officially closed in March of 1975. The Radiation Effects Research Foundation was inaugurated on April 1st, 1975. This is second largest series in Dr. Neel's Collection. Dr. Neel has saved documents reflecting the operation and changes in both the ABCC and the RERF. Included are correspondence with key figures, budgets, policies, memos, legal documents, reports and protocol. Publications from the Biochemical Genetics Study are filed here. Series VIII. ABCC and RERF is divided into five subseries: VIII.1 RERF Misc. Correspondence; VIII.2 Consultants Correspondence 1; VIII.3 Consultants Correspondence 2; VIII.4 Staff Correspondence 1; VIII 5. Staff Correspondence 2.
IX. Manuscript 1 Box
This series contains a typescript of Dr. Neel's manuscript for his book, Physician to the Gene Pool. Dr. Wm. J. Schull donated this manuscript in January of 1994.
Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission, atomic calculations, atomic medicine, congenital and hereditary abnormalities, consanguinity, cytogenetics, genetics, hematology, Hiroshima, Japan, Kitamura Program, Matsubayashi Study, mental retardation, Nagasaki, National Academy of Engineering, National Academy of Sciences, National Research Council, radiation, serology, Tokyo, vital statistics.
Among the correspondents are :
H. Grant Taylor, Carl F. Tessmer, William J. Schull, G. Darling, Gilbert Beebe, Seymour Jablon, Marvin Kastenbaum, Robert W. Miller, Fred M. Snell, Shields Warren, Philip Handler, Herbert Gardner, Richard C. Brewer, Newton Morton, Carl Harris, Lowell Woodbury, D.J. McDonald, Earle L. Reynolds, Philip S. Owen, Chiyoko Satoh, H. Hamilton, M. Rappaport, H. Maki, N. Yamamoto, N. Takahashi, Masuo Kodani, Stanley W. Wright, K. Sakai, Mariyama Choi, Kenji Joji, Norio Fujiki, E. Matsunaga, Shiro Miwa, Hiroshi Nakajima, Yukio Nishimoto, Susumi Shibata, Toshiyuki Yanese.
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