Oak Ridge Associated Universities
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Oak Ridge Associated Universities (ORAU) is a consortium of American universities headquartered in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, with an office in Washington, D.C., and staff at several other locations across the country.
The organization was first established in 1946 as the Oak Ridge Institute of Nuclear Studies (ORINS) by a consortium of southern universities. This was an effort championed by William G. Pollard, who was its executive director until 1974. Its original purpose was to advance science and technology education and research by providing its member institutions with access to the atomic energy research facilities of the Clinton Engineer Works (now known as Oak Ridge National Laboratory). The name Oak Ridge Associated Universities was adopted in 1966.
In 1950, ORINS opened a hospital where it conducted clinical research for the United States Atomic Energy Commission on the use of radiation and radioactive materials in cancer treatment. The hospital treated patients until the mid-1970s. ORINS also conducted training courses in radioisotopes and established resident training programs in nuclear medicine. In the 1980s, clinical research at ORINS was the subject of investigation by the Advisory Committee on Human Radiation Experiments.
The Institute for Energy Analysis was organized as a unit of ORAU in January 1974, under the leadership of former Oak Ridge National Laboratory director Alvin Weinberg. This institute's focus was evaluation of alternatives for meeting future energy requirements. From 1976 until it ceased operation with Weinberg's retirement in 1984, the Institute for Energy Analysis was a center for study of diverse issues related to carbon dioxide and global climate.
In the mid-1970s, ORAU operated the Training And Technology (TAT) Project, an effort at providing marketable technical skills to the disadvantaged unemployed. TAT taught basic sciences, as well as technical skill concentrations, such as welding, machining, mechanical operations, drafting and physical testing. Employment search assistance was provided to trainees to integrate with regional industrial company opportunities.
The Radiation Emergency Assistance Center/Training Site (REAC/TS) was established by ORAU in 1976 to provide onsite emergency medical services, advice, and consultation for incidents involving radiation anywhere in the world.
Current mission and programs
ORAU's mission continues to be the advancement of scientific research and education. ORAU operates the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) under contract to the Department of Energy. ORISE provides operational capabilities and conducts research, education, and training in the areas of science and technology, national security, environmental safety and health, and environmental management.
Health physics and epidemiology continue to be major areas of activity for ORAU and ORISE. Activities include radiological surveys, dose reconstruction, and health screening for workers who may have been exposed to radioactive material, beryllium, or other toxins. The Radiation Emergency Assistance Center/Training Site (REAC/TS) continues to operate as a part of ORISE. A Cytogenetics Biodosimetry Laboratory has been established within ORISE to provide capabilities for measuring radiation dose and to conduct research to improve techniques for determining the doses received by victims of radiological accidents.
Imperial College London is the British university affiliated with the ORAU.
ORAU's universities consortium has over 100 sponsoring member institutions and associate members, as of March 2015:
- "Oak Ridge Post Filled", June 23, 1974, Sunday, New York Times, Section: GN, Page 22, 79 words
- Oak Ridge Journal, "Educators Meet Here Today to Organize Nuclear Institute," October 17, 1946 (Flash required)
- Oak Ridge Associated Universities story: "The ORAU Story"
- Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and Culture
- ORAU Member Universities, ORAU website