William L. Russell dies

Geneticist who pioneered study of mutagenesis in mice dies at 92

Bob Calandra(Rotoca@aol.com)
Jul 30, 2003

William L. Russell, whose tests on mice led to the development of standards for acceptable levels of human exposure to radiation, died at home in Oak Ridge, Tenn., on July 23. He was 92.

An internationally recognized geneticist, Russell spent most of his career at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), focusing on the genetic effects of radiation and, later, of chemicals. His research led to important discoveries about occupational exposure to radiation and exposure to atomic weapons.

"All the standards for risk estimates of exposure to certain radiation and a lot of chemicals to humans was based on Bill's work," said Dabney Johnson, group leader for mammalian genetics at ORNL. "Everything the Atomic Energy Commission and all the international oversight commissions use is from data gained from this program."

Born in Newhaven, England, in 1910, Russell graduated Oxford University with a degree in zoology. In 1937, he earned a doctorate...