Why Famous: Hamilton is best known for his secret experiments exposing unwitting American patients to radiation.
He worked on Experimental Radiology at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory studying the medical effects of exposure to radioactive isotopes as part of the 'Manhatten Project'. Hamilton pioneered their use in the treatment and diagnosis of diseases such as leukemia and thyroid disease.
As well as rats Hamilton injected people with plutonium without their informed consent during secret human trials (1945-1947) including Albert Stevens (known as CAL-1), 4-year-old cancer patient Simeon Shaw, and 36-year-old Elmer Allen.
His research was the principal source for the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) estimates of human tolerance limits of radioactive isotopes.
- 1936-03-23 Physician Joseph G. Hamilton injects a leukemia patient with a sodium radioisotope, first intravenous injection of a human with a radioisotope
- 1945-05-14 Physician Joseph G. Hamilton injects misdiagnosed cancer patient Albert Stevens (CAL-1) with 131 kBq (3.55 µCi) of plutonium without his knowledge. Stevens lives another 20 years, surviving the highest known accumulated radiation dose in any human
- Joseph G. Hamilton - Atomic Heritage Foundation