Washington State University College of Pharmacy

United States Transuranium & Uranium Registries

Meet the Roundtable Participants!


The USTUR's special session at the 2016 Health Physics Society meeting will finish with a roundtable discussion on "50 years of USTUR history". Conference attendees will be invited to ask questions, and the roundtable panel members will provide their recollections and insight as they respond.

In anticipation of the roundtable discussion, we would like to introduce you to the panel members using a series of interview questions.

Bryce Breitenstein, USTR director (1976-1982)
Margery Swint, USTR/USUR director (1982-1989)
Ronald Kathren, USTUR director (1989-1999)
Ronald Filipy, USTUR director (1999-2005)
Jim McInroy, LASL director of radiochemistry
Richard Toohey, chair of roundtable discussion

Bryce Breitenstein

USTR Director
(1976-1982)

What is your background, briefly, how did you become involved with the Registries?

Answer: After high school, I attended the University of Montana School of Pharmacy. After graduating and becoming a Registered Pharmacist, I worked at the Missoula Drug Store. Subsequently, I applied and was admitted to the University of Oregon School of Medicine. After graduation, I completed an internship and an Internal Medicine Residency at L.A. County Hospital (residency interrupted by being drafted into the Army and serving two years of active duty in Germany). I next practiced Internal Medicine in Missoula, Montana for seven years, and then left medical practice to start a fellowship in Environmental Medicine at the Public Health School at the University of Washington in Seattle. After completing the fellowship and earning a MPH, Hanford Environmental Health Foundation (HEHF) in Richland, WA hired me as an Occupational Medicine Physician. In addition to clinical work, I was assigned to head the Research Section at HEHF. At that time, the early 1970s, there were two research studies being performed, The Long Term Hanford Worker Study and the U.S. Transuranium Registry. These studies were performed collaborative with Pacific Northwest Laboratories. Later, the U.S. Uranium Registry was added. These research programs were funded by the U.S. Department of Energy and its predecessor agencies.  In 1979, I became the Chief Executive Officer of HEHF. I took early retirement from HEHF in 1989. I was then hired to be Head of the Occupational Medicine Clinic at Brookhaven National Laboratory in Upton, N.Y., and part-time clinical faculty in the Preventive Medicine Department of Stony Brook Medical School. I retired from these positions in 2001. Next, I worked for about ten years as a Center Medical Director for Concentra Occupational Medical Clinics in Orange County, CA. I stopped full time medical practice in 2013.

What did you enjoy most about working with the Registries?

Answer: I knew that the Registries were and are providing important evidence for Health Physics modeling, and were the best way to understand the bio-distribution and evidence of pathology of the actinide and uranium isotopes of interest in humans. Also, it was a pleasure to work with all the people that were directly involved in the Registries or affiliated with this effort.

How has the USTUR contributed to the science of radiation protection?

Answer: I have been away from the Registries for nearly 30 years. I think this question is better answered by one of our Health Physics Colleagues.

What do you do for fun?

Answer: Currently, I take a very early morning two-hour hike up and down the nearby mountains three times a week. I am in a writing class for writing my life story, and a class on short fiction stories sponsored by Learning in Retirement affiliated with the College of the Desert. I like doing Sudoku. I have time to do reading, both fiction and non-fiction. I play Barons Bridge on my iPhone 6 plus.

What was the biggest challenge that you faced while working the Registries?

Dealing with the completion of specimen collection of the first whole body donation to the USTR in 1979. Details of this case are described in a special issue of the Health Physics Journal published in October 1985.

 

Margery Swint 

USTR/USUR Director
(1982-1989)

What is your background, briefly, how did you become involved with the Registries?

1951-61: Medical Technologist and medical school (University of Michigan) with some autopsy experience.

1963-76: Anesthesiologist in private practice in Milwaukee, WI and Oak Ridge, TN.

1976: Moved to Richland with husband and 3 children.  Declined offer of anesthesiology work nights and weekends.

1980: My pathologist neighbor introduced me to Dr. Breitenstein who risked employing me part time at Hanford Environmental Health Foundation to work for USTR.  This morphed into full-time employment as an Occupational Physician and USTR.  All of this was more interesting than anesthesiology and the hours were much better.

What did you enjoy most about working with the Registries?

The people involved with the USTR made the work most enjoyable.  They were enthusiastic, innovative, cooperative and goal-oriented.  They brought their expertise together for the solution of problems  If the workers and families were willing to give their records and their bodies to help solve problems, my colleagues were willing to give their weekends to do the “take downs.”

How has the USTUR contributed to the science of radiation protection?

This was accomplished through my colleagues’ dedication as well as all the workers who prepared our bare bones facilities for this work to be done.  Eventually enough data on distribution, retention, metabolism and excretion became available as well as the effect of DTPA to determine the accuracy of our measurement of worker exposure.

What do you do for fun?

Enjoy my 5 grandchildren
Continue on Medical Education Committees (both local and state)
Hanford Advisory Board Member
Gardening and Reading (historical and medical)

What was the biggest challenge that you faced while working the Registries?

The subjects of our investigations were members of the “Greatest Generation” during the Cold War...but on the home front.  We thrived on challenges and I can only say, for myself, that there was never disappointment or anger or competition...there is only teamwork, lifelong admiration and friendship to remember.  We couldn’t imagine the present facilities so I can only admire how much more efficient this is today.

 

Ronald Kathren

USTUR Director
(1989-1999)

 

 

Ronald Filipy 

USTUR Director
(1999-2005)

Please share a little about your background and how you become involved with the Registries.

I have a Ph. D. degree in Radiation Biology from Oregon State University.  After completing degree work, I spent 17 years in the Biology Department of Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.  My work, there, involved evaluation of the effects of inhaled uranium ore dust, radon daughters, cigarette smoke, and plutonium in beagle dogs and rodents.  During that time, I acquired much experience with gross pathology and histopathology of the experimental animals.  The USTUR had an opening for a scientist with such qualifications so I applied and was hired.  I was with the USTUR for 15 years, with the last five years as director.

What did you enjoy most about working with the Registries?

Not known to us until 1995, the USSR had a program similar to the USTUR, underway for nearly as long a time.  In 1995, The USTUR and the Russian registry at MAYAK (the Russian equivalent of Hanford, located 1000 miles east of Moscow) came together in a collaborative research program, comparing plutonium dosimetry data.  Several publications resulted from our working relationships and personal relationships developed between Russian and American scientists.  This occupied 5 years of my time with the USTUR, involved many trips to MAYAK, and it is among my fondest memories of my career.

How has the USTUR contributed to the science of radiation protection?

The USTUR data are most valuable for the verification of actinide biokinetics and organ dose models.  These early models, proposed by the ICRP, were based primarily on data from animal experiments.  USTUR data, especially from whole-body donations, have resulted in verification and/or modification of those models.

What do you do for fun?

1.  Read fiction and non-fiction,
2.  Play golf (up to 4 times/week),
3. Babysit with 3 beautiful and brilliant granddaughters (aged 6 mo. to 6 yr.), and
4. Travel and any opportunity.

What was the biggest challenge that you faced while working with the Registries?

Summed up in two words: time management.  This was especially true because of unexpected demands on time such as registrant deaths.

 

 

Jim McInroy 

Director of Radiochemistry
Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory

Please share a little about your background and how you become involved with the Registries.

I received a MS and PhD from Colorado State University, majoring in Health Physics. I began working at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in 1972 to lead their Human Tissue Analysis Program. Tissues were being collected from deceased LANL workers that had volunteered to donate their organs and tissues to the program. These data were shared with the USTR and we became actively involved with their research.

What did you enjoy most about working with the Registries?

I particularity enjoyed the interaction and collaboration with the members of the USTR and their willingness to contribute to our research efforts. Many helpful discussions were held concerning our joint experiences in tissue collection, preparation for analysis and analytical techniques.

How has the USTUR contributed to the science of radiation protection?

The research and analysis of the data obtained by our joint efforts with the USTR have resulted in specific knowledge of the internal distribution and retention of the transuranium elements in the human body of exposed nuclear workers and researchers. This has resulted in much improved computer models for estimating body burdens of these elements using in vivo techniques such as urine analysis.

What do you do for fun?

Since my retirement, I have developed an interest in wood carving ducks, song birds, fish and Santa Clauses, golfing (not very good at it), and fishing. My wife and I have enjoyed taking a couple of cruises, one to Alaska and one to the Bahamas.

 

Richard Toohey 

Roundtable Chair

Please share a little about your background and how you become involved with the Registries.

I first became involved with the Registries in the late 1970’s, when I was working at Argonne’s Center for Human Radiobiology, following up the radium dial painters and also cases occupationally exposed to actinides. I brought some bone samples from one of the plutonium injection cases from the 1940’s out for measurements at PNL’s whole-body counter to aid in detector calibration. I was also invited to assist on measurements of Case 102, a whole-body donation of a worker with an intake of Am-241. In 1993 I become associate director of the Registries, compiling the post-mortem data on Case 246 for a special issue of Health Physics, and was subsequently invited to join the SAC in 2011.

How has the USTUR contributed to the science of radiation protection?

The Registries are an unmatched resource for scientific investigation of actinide biokinetics and validation of the standard models we use to compute internal radiation doses. Registries data have led ICRP to make appropriate adjustments in their models.  Now with new genomic and other techniques such as the pseudo-Pelger-Huet anomaly, the Registries are contributing in was unimagined when they were established.

What do you do for fun?

In my spare time, when I am not involved with HPS, NCP, ICRP, and IRPA, I am a voracious reader, with physical sciences probably in the lead, but psychology, history, and economics close behind.

What was the biggest challenge that you faced while working with the Registries?

The hard part of working with the Registries is that there are so many important and interesting things to do, and simply not enough time to pursue them all.

 

This page was last updated on June 21, 2016. usturwebmaster@tricity.wsu.edu

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