George B. Darling, 1906-1995

George B. Darling served as Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission (ABCC) director from 1957 to 1972. He was a professor of human ecology at Yale University at the time of his recruitment by the US National Academy of Sciences (NAS).

” He came for two years and stayed for 15,” recalled US National Cancer Institute Scientist Emeritus Robert W. Miller, who worked in ABCC’s Department of Genetics from 1958 to 1960. “When he became director, the clinics in Hiroshima and Nagasaki were in turmoil both scientifically and administratively,” Miller wrote.

ABCC faced possible closing because its “. . . productivity had been so low that some contended it had done all it could do and should be phased out,” wrote RERF Visiting Director Seymour Jablon in 1991 in a recollection of the Darling years at ABCC (RERF Update 3[1]:5-7, 1991). Jablon, a member of the 3-person Francis Committee that was dispatched in 1955 by NAS to critically review the ABCC program, recalled the import of the committee’s recommendations to establish fixed, well-defined groups of exposed and non-exposed persons to be tracked over time.

” Darling took the Francis recommendations seriously,” pointed out Jablon, “and he was adamant that the program not be changed to suit the ideas of each new chief of medicine or pathology.” ABCC Associate Director Hiroshi Maki, who also served from 1948-1975 as director of the Japanese National Institute of Health’s ABCC counterpart, the Hiroshima Branch Laboratory, wrote (RERF Update 3[3]:7, 1991): “I believe that Dr Darling had a deep understanding of the customs and feelings of the Japanese. This could be seen from the interest he had in upholding the solemnity of the autopsy room. He held memorial services to show his respect, and he visited the homes of the aged study participants to celebrate their longevity. There is no doubt that Darling’s long tenure provided continuity and improved US-Japan relations,” said Maki.

A Boston native, Darling graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and earned a doctorate in public health at the University of Michigan.

On 30 March 1995, Darling, 89, died at his home in the US.

(Excerpted from “In Memoriam,” RERF Update 7[2]:7, 1995.)