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12 November 2018

Death of Emeritus Fellow Marja Simonsuuri-Sorsa (28 August 1939 - 3 November 2018)

It is with deep sadness that we have to announce the death of Prof. Dr. Marja Simonsuuri-Sorsa. Marja Sorsa was born in 1939 and passed away on November 3, 2018.

Marja Sorsa was a geneticist who has dedicated her professional life to scientific research and public service in the field of occupational health. She was a worldwide highly respected authority in mutagenicity research and genetic toxicology, with special attention to detection of unknown carcinogenic agents in workplaces.
She has been a pioneer in drawing the attention to the ethical aspects of biomonitoring for workers and devoted herself to biomonitoring as part of preventive action in the only interest of worker protection, thereby opposing selection practices.
Dr. Marja Sorsa earned her MSc in genetics at the University of Helsinki in 1963 before continuing her graduate studies at the University of California at Berkeley. Following a visiting fellowship at the Max-Planck-Institut F. Biologie in Tubingen, Germany, Dr. Sorsa completed her PhD in genetics at the University of Helsinki in 1969. Thereafter she returned to the United States as a Fullbright Research Scholar in environmental toxicology at the University of California Davis.
She was Professor Emeritus of the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health (FIOH) and was formerly Research Professor in genetic toxicology at the Academy of Finland.
Dr. Sorsa served as Director of the Department of Occupational Hygiene and Toxicology at FIOH and then as Director of the Ministry of Education for the Finish government before retiring in 2003.
Her high credibility and integrity as a scientist, combined with her moral commitment to the daily protection of workers' health, has always given weight to her active interventions. Her stamina in scientific fora has led to the adequate classification of carcinogenic substances despite opposition from industry. She had a pioneering role in increasing the credibility of genetic biomonitoring data as important elements in the international classification of substances as carcinogenic to humans.
Dr. Sorsa is a member of the Finnish Academy of Science and Letters, Societas Scientiarum Fennica and of the Academia Europea and has been nominated Honorary Member of the Finnish Society of Toxicology. She was elected to the Collegium Ramazzini in 1985 and served on its Executive Council from 1996 to 2001.
Marja's life-long commitment to public service has influenced the thousands of students and employees who have passed through her classrooms and worked under her leadership at the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health and beyond.
She received the Ramazzini Award in 2010 for her scientific leadership in promoting the ethical aspects of occupational and environmental health research and practices.
In 2017, she has been awarded during the Science Days the 14th Bjorn Kurten Prize of the NORDENSKIOLD SOCIETY in Finland for her lifetime scientific work and her contribution to paleontological research. During her studies she found a piece of bones from Suomusjarvi, which she later handed over to the Finnish Natural History Museum. It was new paleontological finding of a fossil specimen of an elephant forfather Deinotherium sp., dated some 4-14 million years ago. In Finland this means a subtropical-tropical climate and two ice ages ago.
Prof Marja Sorsa has always been a lover of nature and of Finnish culture and at the same time a convinced world citizen. She also was a promotor and protector of women in science all over the world.

16 October 2018

New UN Declaration on Protecting Workers Against Tuberculosis

Dear Colleagues,
We would like to inform you about our success achieving inclusion of highly vulnerable workers and commitment on the use of occupational preventive measures into the UN Declaration on Tuberculosis. Our story is at http://www.icohweb.org/site/news-detail.asp?id=154#. ICOH and IOHA participated in the September 26, 2018 United Nations General Assembly Meeting on Tuberculosis (TB) in New York City and in the previous preparatory meetings. There the World Leaders endorsed the UN Political Declaration on TB "United to End Tuberculosis: An Urgent Global Response to a Global Epidemic".

We are happy to confirm that thanks to an intense year of effort by ICOH, IOHA, many of you, and other partners, our suggested language related to workers is successfully included in this endorsed Declaration. Click on the link just above to see Paragraph 17, which identifies "health care workers, miners and others exposed to silica" as high-risk vulnerable groups. Also see Paragraph 31, which says: "Commit to... implementing primary prevention in high-risk occupations by reducing silica dust exposures in mining, construction and other dusty workplaces, and worker tuberculosis surveillance and infection prevention and control in healthcare settings".
Marilyn Fingerhut (NIOSH), Perry Gottesfeld (Occupational Knowledge International), Sophie Kisting (NIOSH South Africa), and Gwen Brachman (ICOH) represented ICOH at the TB Meeting. Andrea Hiddinga, immediate past President International Occupational Hygiene Association, represented IOHA. Roberto Lucchini (Collegium Ramazzini) took part at the preparatory UN meetings.
Our next steps will include development of workplans to facilitate assistance to countries and organizations to implement workplace practices to reduce silica in workplaces and to protect health workers. These efforts will take place via the ICOH SC MinOSH TB-Silica Subcommittee, co-chaired by Marilyn and Perry, and via the SC OH Health Workers TB-Health Worker Subcommittee, co-chaired by Gwen and Sophie. We will be reaching out to ICOH SCs and members, IOHA, the (currently 65) organizations which endorsed the ICOH TB Statements, and to all of you. The Statements and endorsers are located at http://www.icohweb.org/site/ICOH-TB-Statements.asp. If your organization has not endorsed one or both TB Statements, please consider inviting endorsement. Instructions are at that website.
If you would like to join the TB-Silica Subcommittee, please contact Marilyn at mfingerhut1@aol.com. To join the HW-TB Subcommittee, please contact Gwen Brachman at gobmd@yahoo.com. If you have suggestions regarding how we could move forward, please also send them to Marilyn and/or Gwen.
Warm regards,
Roberto Lucchini on behalf of Marilyn, Perry, Gwen and Sophie

1 October 2018

Death of Kathryn Knowles, Executive Secretary of the Collegium Ramazzini (27 April 1976 - 18 September 2018)

It is with deep sadness that I have to announce the death of Kathryn Knowles, Executive Secretary of the Collegium Ramazzini. Kathryn passed away in Bologna on September 18, 2018 at the age of 42 after a few weeks' terrible and aggressive disease. She leaves a three year-old boy and a loving husband to whom, on behalf of all Fellows and Emeritus Fellows of the Collegium, I express our deepest condolences.

Kathryn joined the Collegium Ramazzini in 2006 as Executive Secretary and from that time until her death was the glue that held the "Collegium Family" together. In the words of one of the many Fellows who sent the General Secretariat a message of condolences, "Kathryn was one of the most energetic, ebullient, organized, helpful and just delightful people I ever met and she did so much for the Collegium Ramazzini Fellows".
Certainly, we will remember her forever as the most faithful of co-workers at the Collegium Ramazzini.

Morando Soffritti

28 September 2018

Death of Emeritus Fellow Shunichi Araki (8 March 1942 - 1 August 2018)

Expert in occupational medicine and public health. Born in Yokohama, Japan, on March 8, 1942. Died of ischemic heart disease in Tokyo, Japan, on August 1, 2018, at age 76.
Obituary by Fellow Kazuhito Yokoyama

Dr. Shunichi Araki began his career as an internal physician after graduating from the Faculty of Medicine at The University of Tokyo in 1966. He was appointed as an instructor in the Department of Public Health at The University of Tokyo, in 1974, and later spent 1 year, starting July 1976, at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) as a British Council Scholar. There he finished his Master of Science degree (occupational medicine) in August 1977. After returning to Japan, Dr. Araki was appointed as an associate professor in the Department of Public Health at the Tohoku University Faculty of Medicine (from January 1978) and then as a professor in the Department of Public Health and Hygiene at Oita Medical College. From April 1987 to March 2001, he served as a professor and as chairman of the Graduate School and Faculty of Medicine at The University of Tokyo. During that period, he was also appointed as director general of the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, Japan (JNIOSH), from April 2000. After he retired from JNIOSH in March 2009, he served as a director for two public institutions: the Saitama Occupational Health Promotion Center of the Japan Labour Health and Welfare Organization and Espoir Tokorozawa Geriatric Health Care Institution. During that time, he was appointed as a visiting and adjunct professor at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, awarded a Diploma of Industrial Health (Royal College of Physicians of London and Royal College of Surgeons of England), and was an associate in the Faculty of Occupational Medicine (Royal College of Physicians of London). He was also appointed as a fellow of Collegium Ramazzini in 1990, and then as its emeritus fellow in 2011. In 2008, he served as a delegate for the first World Summit on Safety and Health at Work (International Labour Organization).
According to the website of The Social Medicine Promotion Foundation, founded by Dr. Araki in 2014 (http://plaza.umin.ac.jp/smpf/index.html), his English-language first-author original publications since graduation from university were mainly on: (1) subclinical neurophysiological effects and methods in occupational and environmental health; e.g., peripheral nerve conduction, evoked potentials, and event-related potential (P300) studies in lead workers; (2) mobilization of lead and other metals into the plasma and urine by calcium disodium ethylenediamine tetraacetate (CaEDTA), an effective chelating agent; (3) assessment of the physical burden of chelatable lead in relation to blood lead in workers exposed to lead, as well as in unexposed people; (4) renal excretory mechanisms of lead, other metals, and organic substances into human urine; and (5) adjustments of urinary concentrations of those metals and substances into urinary volume, also in humans. Apart from those, together with his young colleagues and doctoral students, he published a wide variety of epidemiological, psychosomatic, and immunological papers in occupational, environmental, and community health. In 1991, he organized two international symposia at The University of Tokyo: (1) the 4th Symposium on Neurobehavioral Methods and Effects in Occupational and Environmental Health, co-organized with the International Commission on Occupational Health (ICOH), World Health Organization, and International Labour Organization, and (2) the 12th International Symposium of The University of Tokyo, entitled, Behavioral Medicine: Biobehavioral Approach to Health and Illness. The two symposium proceedings were published as monographs by Academic Press (1994) and Elsevier Publishers (1992), respectively. Dr. Araki served as chairman of the ICOH Scientific Committee on Neurotoxicology and Psychophysiology (1993-2000), editor-in-chief of Industrial Health (2000-2009) and associate editor of Environmental Research (from 1990), the American Journal of Industrial Medicine (1992-2018), and the International Journal of Behavioral Medicine (1993-1998). He also served as an honorary director of the Sanlian Accident Prevention Institute in China (1991-2018).
During Dr. Araki's time as chair of the Department of Public Health of the Graduate School of Medicine at The University of Tokyo, until 2001 (in the last year he was an adjunct position), he educated approximately 100 medical students on public health each year, and supervised on average eight postgraduate students in the program for the degree of Doctor of Medical Sciences (DMSc). Among his doctoral students, six became professors at Kyoto University and three at another Japanese national university, a private university, and a university in China. One was invited to be director of a governmental research institution, two opened medical clinics, and two became dental practitioners. He left two great works to his colleagues in Japan: Occupational Medicine (Science-sha, Tokyo, 1981), which covered clinical and fundamental aspects of work-related diseases based on his experience as a physician, with a history of occupational medicine and public health since the era of Ramazzini. This work effectively validated the importance of the approach by workers who suffered from illnesses. He also published Principles of Social Medicine (Polish Work, Tokyo, 2017), which demonstrated his devotion to research in this field throughout his academic and professional, and served as a testament to his life's achievements.
I worked with Dr. Araki from 1982 until he retired from The University of Tokyo, and I later invited him to be a visiting professor at Mie University (2003-2009), and then Juntendo University (2009-2018), when I became a professor at these universities. I had asked him to pass his superb knowledge and acumen down to the next generation. On behalf of all students of Dr. Shunichi Araki, I hope that his soul will rest in peace.
Kazuhito Yokoyama

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