UR Professor Emeritus, Expert in Effects of Radiation, Dies

Developed first doctoral program in radiation health

September 28, 2005

J. Newell Stannard, a University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry professor emeritus who was a leader in the field of radiation health and safety for six decades, died Sept. 19 at the Remington Club Nursing Home in Rancho Bernardo, Calif. He was 95.

Dr. Stannard, who developed the world’s first doctoral program in radiation biology at the university’s School of Medicine, was a UR faculty member for almost 40 years before retiring in 1975. He taught and mentored hundreds of students who went on to become leaders and experts in the field of radiation health.

His 1,900-page book, “Radioactivity and Health,” which was published in 1988, is considered a unique and comprehensive account of the health effects of radiation and the people involved in radiation research.

“His scholarship put him at the forefront of our understanding of the effects of radiation and radioactive material,” said William J. Bair, who received his doctorate in radiation biology in 1954, the first of Dr. Stannard’s students to earn the degree.

Many graduates of the Rochester program have made significant contributions to radiation protection and related professions in industry, education, research, medicine, and government, he said.

“The people he taught and trained are his legacy and the most enduring impact of his work,” Bair said

Bair, who retired in 1994 as manager of the Life Sciences Center at Battele's Pacific Northwest Laboratories in Richland, Washington, estimated that almost 1,000 people were educated in Dr. Stannard’s Rochester program.

Dr. Stannard, who was born in Owego, N.Y., received a doctorate in physiology and biophysics from Harvard University in 1935, when he also joined the Rochester faculty. During World War II, he served in the U.S. Navy, assigned to conduct research in respiration physiology at the National Institutes of Health.

After the war, he returned to the university. In 1947, he was named assistant director for education of the Atomic Energy Project at the university. During his career he published numerous studies and reports on radiation.

“Newell Stannard was an educational visionary and pioneer who had a major influence in the shaping of the scientific foundation of radiation safety standards and practice in the United States and the world,” said Otto Raabe, who earned his doctorate in radiation biology from the University of Rochester School of Medicine in 1967.

Raabe is professor emeritus at the Center for Health and Environment at the University of California at Davis.

Bair described Dr. Stannard as “a gentleman and a very kind and compassionate person.”

“I don’t remember him ever speaking in anger. Besides being a true scholar, he was a tremendous human being,” Bair said.

In addition to his wife, Helena Ruth Stannard of Rancho Bernardo, Dr. Stannard’s survivors include: a daughter, Susan Frazier of Valley Center, Calif., three stepdaughters, several grandchildren and great-grandchildren and a brother, Robert Stannard of Wellington, Ohio.

A memorial service has been scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 12, at St. Bartholomew's Episcopal Church in Poway, Calif.

 The family has requested that any memorial donations be made to the J. Newell Stannard Graduate Scholarship Fund at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry.

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