Gordon Research Conference in Biochemistry
Date: July 20-25, 2008
Location: University of New England, Biddeford, ME
Notes: see September/October BEMS newsletter, page 2

XXIXth URSI General Assembly
Date: August 9-16, 2008
Location: Hyatt Regency Chicago Hotel on the Riverwalk,151
East Wacker Drive, Chicago, Illinois, USA.
Notes: see article in BEMS Newsletter, Jan/Feb 2008, page 11
Information: http://www.ece.uic.edu/2008ursiga/

6th International Non-Ionizing Radiation Workshop
Date: October 14-17, 2008
Location: Rio de Janeiro, BRAZIL
Notes: see article in this issue
Contact: http://www.icnirp.org/NIR2008.htm

12th International Conference, International Radiation Protection Association, IRPA 12
Date: October 19-24, 2008.
Location: Buenos Aires, ARGENTINA.
Focus: 1. Epistemology of radiation: Methods, current knowledge of physical and biological sciences in relation to effects of radiation exposure. 2. Radiation Protection of people 3. Practice of radiation protection by practitioners and industries.
Contact: http://www.irpa12.org.ar

SPIE Energy-Based Treatment of Tissue and Assessment
Date: January 24-29, 2009
Location: San Jose, CA (USA)
Notes: see March/April BEMS newsletter
Contact: http://spie.org/BiOS

Progress in Electromagnetics Research Symposium (PIERS) for 2009
Date: March 23-27, 2009
Location: Beijing, CHINA
Notes: PIERS provides an international forum for reporting progress and recent advances in the modern development of electromagnetic theory and its new and exciting applications starting 1989. Spectra of interest range from statics to RF, microwave, photonics, and beyond. Topics include radiation, propagation, diffraction, scattering, guidance, resonance, power, energy and force issues, and all other modern developments. The 2009 meeting will have two sessions that are being organized by BEMS members: Both are under Topic 27: “Medical Electromagnetics, RF biological effect, MRI”:

  • Advances in the Bioeffects and Exposure Standards for Non-Ionizing Radiation - Organized by Michael R. Murphy

  •  RF Exposure Safety Issues - Organized by C-K Chou A third session of possible interest to BEMS members is:

  •  Biomedical Applications of Electromagnetic waves - Organized by Xu Li.

Abstract submission deadline: September 7, 2008
Contact: http://piers.mit.edu/piers

Society for Thermal Medicine Annual Meeting
Date: April 3-7, 2009
Location: Tucson, AZ
Abstract submission deadline: December 5, 2008
Contact: http://www.thermalmedicine.org

BioEM2009: Joint Meeting of The Bioelectromagnetics Society and the European BioElectromagnetics Association
Date: June 14-19, 2009
Location: Davos, Switzerland
Contact: http://www.bioelectromagnetics.org

In Memoriam: Robert Becker

Robert Otto Becker, whose early opposition to high-voltage power lines because of suspicions about health effects initiated a controversy that remains unsettled to the present day, died May 14 in New York at the age of 84.

Becker’s career began with studies of the “currents of injury” and the role of electric stimulation to regenerate limbs and bones (with the late Andrew Bassett, a BEMS d’Arsonval Awardee). In 1963, he reported a correlation between geomagnetic activity and psychiatric admission rates. Later, in a 1967 article in the journal Nature, Becker and colleagues examined the possible impact of magnetic fields on human reaction times. He also reported, in 1981, on a possible link between power frequency magnetic fields and suicide rates.

Becker may be best known for his testimony at a hearing related to plans of New York power companies to build two 765,000-volt powerlines in New York. At that hearing, he and one of his staff, Andrew Marino (presently a professor at Louisiana State University Medical Center in Shreveport), described various physiological effects in rats and mice exposed to electromagnetic fields comparable to those associated with powerlines. These results were substantiated by EPRI ten years later.

Becker’s evaluation of US Navy studies performed in connection with its plans to build submarine communication systems (Project Sanguine, later Project Seafarer, and the Project ELF) led to his appearance on 60 Minutes, conflict with Phillip Handler, then the president of the National Academy of Sciences, and forced his retirement at the age of 56 (Details of these events are in The Electric Wilderness by Andrew Marino and Joel Ray (San Francisco Press, 1986)).

Dr. Becker attended Gettysburg College and the NYU School of Medicine. He completed a residency in Hanover, N.H., and served in the Army medical corps in the early 1950s. In 1956, he joined the SUNY Upstate Medical Center in Syracuse where he served as a professor of surgery and later as chief orthopedist at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Syracuse, NY. He authored two books about EMF: “The Body Electric” (1985, focusing more on therapeutic regeneration) and “Cross Currents: The Promise of Electromedicine, the Perils of Electropollution” (1990).

He is survived by his wife, three children, and two grandchildren.

In Memoriam: W. H. Fletcher

William Henry Fletcher, a professor of anatomy at Loma Linda University in Redlands, CA, who pioneered work with gap junctions, especially the role of connexin43 in heart development, died on May 8 in Loma Linda, California at the age of 67.

Dr. Fletcher collaborated with BEMS members Craig Byus, the late W. Ross Adey, and BEMS past president Richard Luben to study the effects of modulated RF and ELF exposures on gap junctions. His work was reported at several BEMS and DOE/EPRI Contractors Review meetings in the mid 1980s.

Dr. Fletcher earned a doctorate at the University of California, Berkeley in 1972 and went on to do post graduate work at Duke University School of Medicine (North Carolina) and at the Universite Libre in Brussels (Belgium) under a National Institutes of Health Fellowship. Fletcher was a faculty member at the University of California at Riverside then moved to the Loma Linda University (LLU) School of Medicine. In 1985, he was invited to become an independent investigator at the Jerry L Pettis Memorial VA Medical Center while teaching at LLU. While there, he performed and published groundbreaking research uniting biochemistry, physiology, structural, cell and molecular biology with clinical medicine, with a special emphasis on cellular communication via gap junctions.

Recipient of numerous merit and career development awards, he is survived by his wife, his son, and his daughter.

Swedish Agency Changes Name

The Swedish Radiation Safety Authority, a new central regulatory authority responsible for radiation protection and nuclear safety, will be established on 1 July 2008. This new authority will assume the responsibilities of both the Swedish Radiation Protection Authority and the Swedish Nuclear Power Inspectorate when these authorities cease to exist on 30 June 2008.

For more information about the new authority and its operations, see www.stralsakerhetsmyndigheten.se


Professor Livio Guiliani, spokesman for the International Commission for Electromagnetic Safety, reports that his group on international scientists has released a new statement expressing concerns about the possible biological effects of pervasive EMF exposure that recommends reduced exposure standards and limit use of cell phones and other wireless devices by minors. The text of this resolution can be seen at www.icems.eu.

By Raymond Richard Neutra, Chief Emeritus Division of Environmental and Occupational Disease Control California Department of Public Health

The presentations of Niels Kuster, Frank Barnes and Dariusz Leszczynski at the last session of the San Diego BEMS meeting reminded me again of the fact that those who work in this field operate within different scientific cultures including but not limited to: physics, biophysics, electrical engineering, physical chemistry, molecular biology, cellular biology, physiology, toxicology and epidemiology. These different scientific cultures have different ideas of what evidence and what inferential rules go into making a convincing claim of causality. This leads to different scientific conclusions and to a lack of agreement on research priorities.

Over the years I have noticed that each discipline uses their own inferential rules of thumb to guide them as to what scientific observations to “enter into evidence”. However though these rules are inculcated during training in the particular discipline and by now taken for granted, they are rarely explicitly stated. For example regulatory toxicologists want to exclude any evidence not generated by “Best Laboratory Practices” and their extensive audit trails, while most academic researchers cannot afford to adhere to these and instead use usual scientific quality control. Each discipline uses other unstated rules of thumb to move from the evidence to claims about their certainty that the EMF mixture, or one of its ingredients is capable of causing an effect observable within their particular domain. Physicists used to dealing with relatively simple situations demand a kind of replication or repeatability that is not always achievable in complex biological systems driven by multiple variables and feed back loops. Each discipline uses still other unstated inferential rules to make claims about the relevance of the effects they have observed to pathological or therapeutic effects in humans. As a result there are endless arguments as to what would constitute a convincing argument for causality and relevance. Also there are unresolved arguments as to what series of experiments or observations are most likely to move the field further. This goes beyond the usual lobbying for one’s own research unit.

When there is miscommunication within a team comprised of different cultures, one needs a culture consultant to figure out what is going wrong and help the team figure out how to overcome their communication problems.

If I were a contract officer again for a research program, I would set aside some money for the following activities to overcome this problem:

  1. I would issue a request for proposal for an interdisciplinary team which, with the promise of reimbursement for their time, would agree to meet face to face and through internet meeting modalities to explore the differences in their inferential assumptions about (a) what should be entered into evidence, (b) how one should move from evidence to causal claims and (c) how one should move from claims about bioeffects to claims about pathology or cure. The team effort would be coached by experts in argument theory and philosophy of science. These facilitators would write the final report with input and comment from team members. I would have at least two such parallel teams, one of self declared doubting Thomas’s, and one of self declared “high index of suspicion” scientists. At the end of the process the two teams would meet, in a series of facilitated meetings to discuss the inevitable difference in approaches. And the argument theorists and philosophers of science would be charged with writing a summary report on lessons learned.
  2. The second task of the teams would be to recommend priorities for future research on the basis of the above understandings.
  3. Since EMF effects may be sensitive to experimental conditions (for example strain of animal used, etc) I would ask the teams to work with investigators to discuss ahead of time the possible results of proposed experiments or observations. Next steps and valid inferences should be laid out ahead of time not made up after the results are seen (as was the case with the hen house study). If replications fail, there should be a protocol and a budget to find out why they failed. In the budget should be funds for skilled arbitrators and argument theorists who have the ability to help participants move through emotionally charged scientific disagreements.

Historically, the Technical Program Committee for each annual meeting of the Bioelectromagnetics Society has been chaired by the incoming President. For the Kanazawa meeting, however, Rich Nuccitelli, who was not the president elect, ably assumed the difficult task of organizing BEMS’ first Asain meeting and developing plenary sessions. In recognition of his efforts, the Society created the Leadership Award, presented here by outgoing BEMS President Ewa Czerska. For the San Diego meeting, Michael McLean assumed leadership of the Technical Program Committee and was also recognized for his efforts with a Leadership award.

James C. Lin, PhD, Professor
Editor-in-Chief, Bioelectromagnetics
University of Illinois-Chicago (M/C 154)
851 South Morgan Street, Rm 1020 SEO
Chicago, Illinois 60607-7053 USA

Bioelectromagnetics continues to publish at a frequency of 8 issues per year. To improve print publication times for the Journal, in calendar year 2007, we purchased 63 extra pages for a total of 671 pages and published 95 articles of various types. In addition, an EarlyView has been implemented nearly two years ago to facilitate rapid online publication, ahead of print publication. Currently, the Bioelectromagnetics journal is ranked #23 out of 70 in the biology category.

The Journal’s 2007 (current) Impact Factor (IF) is 1.80. Table 1 shows the 2007 IFs of some related journals bassed on 2007 information from ISI Web of Science. It is noteworthy that the median IF for the biology subject category is 1.29. For comparison, Table 2 shows the variation in Impact Factor for our journal over the last three reporting years. I am pleased to report that the Impact Factor for Bioelectromagnetics increased to 1.80 for 2007, after a dip during the last reporting period (2006). As you know, Bioelectromagnetics is essential reading for all who are engaged in the topics. Your assistance in encouraging your colleagues to submit manuscripts reporting their research for publication in our journal is greatly appreciated.

Table 1: Journal Impact Factors

Journal Title 2007 Current
Bioelectromagnetics 1.80
Electromagnetics in Biology and Medicine 0.53
Environmental Health Perspectives 5.86
Health Physics 0.87
International Journal of Radiation Biology 1.47
Radiation and Environmental Biophysics 1.07
Radiation Protection Dosimetry 0.45
Radiation Research 2.60

Table 2: Bioelectromagnetics Journal Impact Factors

Journal Title 2005 2006 2007
Bioelectromagnetics 2.19 1.51 1.80

I am delighted to report that the Board of Directors of the Bioelectromagnetics Society has approved two initiatives: (1) Best Paper Award for a paper published in the Bioelectromagnetics journal, starting with the current 2008 volume, and (2) funded open access option for articles published in the Journal, effective immediately.

An objective of the Bioelectromagnetics journal is to publish high-quality papers reporting studies that are conducted with scientific and technical rigor. The Best Paper Award will recognize the scientific accomplishments of our colleagues. The Award will be selected on recommendation of the Editorial Board and approval of the Board of Directors of the Bioelectromagnetics Society. It will consist of a certificate along with a monetary prize, presented during the Annual Scientific Meeting of the Society.

Funded access option to the Bioelectromagnetics journal would allow open access to a funded article once published. With this online option, the author pays a fee to ensure that the article is made available to non-subscribers upon publication. The cost to the authors is $3000. The funded open access option will be offered only to those authors whose articles have been accepted for publication and only at the point when the article is accepted, to ensure that the funded access option has no influence on the peer review and acceptance process.

We look forward to continuing to publish high-quality papers in Bioelectromagnetics reporting studies that are conducted by our colleagues worldwide.

ICNIRP Non-Ionizing Radiation Workshop Announced

ICNIRP is happy to announce its quadriennial International NIR Workshop to be held from 14 to 17 October 2008 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Non-ionizing radiation protection is a broad field demanding knowledge of many scientific disciplines including epidemiology, medicine, biology and physics and engineering. Every four years, an international workshop is organized by the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation (ICNIRP) to present an up-to-date overview of the advancement of science and protection in different areas of non-ionizing radiation.

The 6th International Non-Ionizing Radiation Workshop will be co-sponsored by the Brazilian Ministry of Science and Technology and the World Health Organization.

Further information on the scope of the workshop and the program are available at www.icnirp.org/NIR2008.htm. For additional inquiries related to this workshop, please contact info@ icnirp.org

Editor’s note: At the BEMS 2008 meeting Jan Cuppen reported on a series of experiments performed with an ELF stimulus that showed an apparent enhancement of the immune system in carp cells, and whole animimal goldfish, chicken broilers, shrimp, and piglets. This work, using relatively simple fields appeared to be of great interest to many members at that meeting and could have significant impacts on the efficiency of food stock production in the future. Given that, we asked him for a synopsis of the work, printed below.


Jan Cuppen, Ph.D., Immunent BV, The Netherlands


Parts of this work were done in collaboration with Geert Wiegertjes at Wageningen University, Anton Beynen and Mohammed Elmusharaf at Utrecht University, and Willem Smink from FIS BV in The Netherlands.

At the BEMS 2008 meeting we reported on a series of experiments performed with an ELF stimulus that showed an apparent enhancement of the immune system in carp cells, and whole animal, goldfish, chicken broilers, shrimp, and piglets. This work, using relatively simple fields (detailed in the Cuppen reference given at the end of this article), was of such interest to many members that we describe it briefly here, with references, so that members may learn more about our work. We believe that a key characteristic of our work is that we work with large numbers of animals, so the experiments are sensitive for effects, but with limited sophistication (and cost) of measurements. This work could, potentially, have significant impacts on the efficiency of food stock production in the future.

Some of our data has been published (Cuppen et al. 2007) and further papers are in preparations.


Several publications have demonstrated the production of cytokines, increased immune parameters and stress effects and concluded that EMF causes stress at the cellular level and that this leads to production of cytokines and consequently biological response, including immune response. This has led Simkó and Mattson (2004) to proposes that macrophage activation could be effected through ROS due to short term EMF exposure.

In Immunology, Matzinger (2002) recently proposed that immune response is not only due to the presence of non-self cells but also needs the presence of promotors called “danger signals” like HSP’s, Interleukins and other cytokines. Danger signals are formed when cells get stressed or damaged. The idea behind the view is that strange DNA that does not cause damage, such as a foetus or food, does not and should not trigger an immune response.

The danger signal hypothesis can be schematically represented as in Figure 1.

We propose an extended hypothesis which can be schematically represented as in Figure 2.

The core of the proposed hypothesis is that short term LF EMF exposure, possibly repeated, can produce danger signals that can trigger the immune system activation feedback mechanism in the presence of pathogens. As such, the EMF induced danger signals take the place of the danger signals that would be produced by multiplying pathogens and the damage they cause to cells and tissues. In this way, a timely EMF treatment can avoid the delay given by the time it takes for enough damage
to occur and danger signals to be produced in a normal disease development. Thus, the immune response to pathogens can be advanced in time and damage and a well developed pathogen attack can be avoided.

In a first series of experiments, in vitro common carp head kidney-derived phagocytes were used to determine ROS (Reactive Oxigen Species) production as a measure for immune activation. Exposure to LF EMF signals (250-5000 Hz) at 5 μT or 1,5 mT led to 42% or 33% increase in immune activity, respectively, compared to negative control values. EMF could also additionally stimulate chemically pre-stimulated samples up to 18% (5 μT) or 22% (1,5 mT). Significance of increase in ROS production due to EMF in the total series was: p<0.0001.

In a second series of experiments, in vivo commercial goldfish with infectious disease were used. Groups of fish were housed under equal conditions in at least 4 control tanks and 8 to 16 EMF-exposed tanks.

Without treatment, mortality was about 50% after 18 days, while the treatment at 5 μT reduced it to 20% on average.

Finally, experiments were done with commercial chicken broilers, exposed to Coccidiosis, which is a common infectious disease in poultry, causing major economic losses.

We found that feed conversion, the ratio of the amount of food required to produce a given weight gain in the chicken broilers, was significantly lower for the EMF exposed group with infection than for controls in both experiments. We believe that one explanation for reduced feed uptake in chickens could be less energy spent on developing infections.

Moreover it should be noted that the reduction in feed conversion achieved rivals the best results achieved in comparable trials with preventive antibiotics (now illegal in animal feed in the EU). This indicates that EMF treatment is as effective in suppressing infections and the resulting productive loss in chicken as preventive antibiotics were.

Piglet experiments were performed in a commercial farm as well. Here we used one department as control and another department as test, with 14 meters distance in between. We limited coil size such that the stray fields at the control were calculated to be smaller than 1 nT. At the piglets we achieved 0.4 μT which we hope to increase to 2 to 5 μT in the near future. Results for our early tests showed that the exposed piglets had an 8.6% higher growth per day as % of starting weight than the controls on average over 6 runs, with a standard deviation of 6.3%. Also a 3% better feed conversion was obtained.

Finally, in the Brazilian shrimp industry there is a widespread problem with reduced growth due to inbreeding because of a national ban on importing fresh brood stock for fear of diseases. Because of this we performed a field trial with farmed shrimp in Salvador, Brazil.

In a first run we obtained 50% faster growth from the experimental pond in contrast to that observed in the control pond. The harvest from the treated pond was 808 kg, while the control pond delivered 520 kg, for the same amount of feed employed. The treatment seems to restore normal growth rates and again, much better feed conversion!


This research indicates that this ELF EMF treatment is capable of stimulating the immune system. LF EMF treatment reduces the damage, in terms of intestinal lesions of Coccidiosis infection in broilers. Moreover LF EMF treatment was shown to improve feed conversion up to 12 points, equivalent to some 8% reduced feed uptake for equal growth. Pilot studies with piglets and shrimp growth showed similar feed conversion improvements.

Because of the low field strengths required, and the surprisingly large effects on animal health, the results indicate that practical application with important economic advantages for farmers is possible.

Selected references

Cuppen J.J.M., Wiegertjes G.F., Lobee H.W.J., Savelkoul H.F.J., Elmusharaf M.A., Beynen A.C., Grooten H.N.A. and Smink W. (2007): Immune stimulation in fish and chicken through weak low frequency electromagnetic fields, The Environmentalist, 27, 577-583

Lupke M., Rollwitz J. and Simkó M. (2004) 50 Hz magnetic fields induce reactive oxygen intermediates in human monocytes and in Mono Mac 6 cells. Free Radic. Res. 38, 985-993

Matzinger P. (2002): The danger model: a renewed sense of self. Science 2002;296:301-5.

Simkó M., Droste S., Kriehuber R. and Weiss D.G. (2001): Stimulation of phagocytosis in murine macrophages by 50 Hz electromagnetic fields. Eur. J. Cell Biol. 80, 562-566

Simkó, M. and Mattsson M.O. (2004): Extremely low frequency electromagnetic fields as effectors of cellular responses in vitro: possible immune cell activation. J. Cell. Biochem. 93:83-92, 2004.