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ORAU History - 1979

Dr. Fred Snyder (right) and Merle Blank

Dr. Fred Snyder (right) and Merle Blank were part of the Biochemistry Program’s research team that discovered the structure of the platelet-activating factor (PAF) in 1979. PAF is a lipid that plays a crucial role in controlling cell growth, cellular differentiation, blood pressure, and reproductive and development processes.

The new marmoset breeding facility, constructed in 1979, enabled the Medical and Health Sciences Division (MHSD) to propagate the marmoset colony for biomedical research. The design of the 2,250-square-foot facility provided the marmosets with adequate space, territorial security, and freedom from stress—environmental factors conducive for breeding. It permitted marmosets to raise their families in an indoor-outdoor environment with visual screening from other family groups. No experimental studies were permitted in this breeding facility other than behavioral observations.

The Pittsburgh Energy Technology Center internship program was implemented in 1979. It was designed to provide on-the-job training for undergraduates in engineering, the sciences, journalism, and business. Also, the Fossil Energy Speaker Program got under way. Like the Traveling Lecture Program, it encouraged interaction between fossil energy researchers at universities and scientists at U.S. Department of Energy and contractor facilities.

The Manpower Research Programs responded to several important national issues during 1979. Testimony was presented at public hearings of the President’s Commission on Coal and the House Subcommittee on Employment Opportunities. In addition to its work in coal mine labor productivity and energy-related skills training program development, the Manpower Research staff was asked to participate in the Vice President’s Task Force on Youth Employment Opportunities.

The Training and Technology (TAT) Program received a great deal of national attention after it was cited by the Committee on Economic Development as a model of cooperation among government, industry, and education.

The 1979 Three Mile Island incident in Pennsylvania generated a great deal of interest in work completed by ORAU’s Institute for Energy Analysis (IEA) toward an acceptable nuclear system. IEA had always maintained that reactor accidents must be openly addressed if nuclear energy is to be accepted. The Institute continued work on the confined siting plan, which would add reactors to existing nuclear sites rather than create new sites. The Tennessee Valley Authority, the country’s largest nuclear utility, adopted this policy.

The Energy Education Division launched a new program, Energy Adventure. Developed with funds from the Exxon Foundation, it was concerned primarily with fossil fuels and how the private sector supplies them.