THOUGHTS AND REFLECTIONS
By Alan Cocchetto, NCF Medical Director
From Winter 2017-8 Forum
A research colleague from the University of Hawaii, recently contacted me to let me know of the passing of Dr. Yoshitsugi Hokama.
They had informed me that Dr. Hokama had suffered a stroke and as a result, was in poor health. I had discussed this news with Gail and others associated with the NCF. It truly saddened us to hear of his death. Our sincere prayers and sympathy go to his family at this most diffcult time.
I have had time to reflect on our research endeavors with Dr. Hokama but must first comment on the type of person I found him to be. He was a man of integrity. He was soft spoken, kept his promises, had a keen interest in scientific research and was very much interested in learning about this disease. I most appreciated his humor, especially when he provided simple analogies to help in explaining the scientific details of his work. You could ask him anything regarding our research and he was always willing to listen. In a way, he nurtured the science and sought the truth. I particularly enjoyed our many hours spent on the phone in our numerous “bantering sessions.”
Over the years, the NCF had reported on Dr. Hokama's research findings. He had been funded by the NCF for seven to eight years duration and was formally given the NCF's Outstanding Researcher Award for his contribution to uncovering new substantial scientific knowledge about the disease. The NCF's relationship with Dr. Hokama formally began in 2002 and this history was covered in a NCF article that was written at the time titled, “The National CFIDS Foundation begins to disclose its vital research discoveries to the worldwide patient community.” Subsequently, other articles appeared and served to answer the many questions that patients had regarding his research. Ultimately, over 2500 patients worldwide were tested for ciguatera reactivity in their blood of which 94% of those patients were found to be positive using his monoclonal antibody test.
Dr. Hokama was the first scientist who suggested that the patient findings may in-fact be related to radiation exposure. As such, he helped the NCF to locate a specialized lab capable of testing for various radionuclides. After extensive testing, we would leam that all the patients we had assayed tested positive for intemal alpha-radionuclides. We later learned that 65.5% of the Chernobyl liquidators, from 1990 to 1995, developed Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. This key finding concurred with our data that our disease was a radiation exposure-based disease entity! It would take the NCF several years to ultimately persuade Dr. Carmel Mothersill and her team to look at the data we had collected and to ask her for her interpretation of all of these results. She concurred with the findings. It would then take several additional years to obtain and to test Dr. Hokama's own antibody to determine if his antibody was possibly detecting radiation exposure and thus acting as a biodosimeter....it was!
Dr. Hokama's extensive efforts with the NCF all started with a cold-call, an unsolicited phone call, initiated by the NCF, to ask for his review of the data to date and to ask for his kind assistance. Wow, boy did he deliver! He could have retired but chose not to because he felt moved to be of help to patients who were suffering. We could never thank him enough for all his kind and supportive efforts that have served to unravel the many mysteries of this disease. For this, we say with heartfelt gratitude, “Godspeed Hoagy!”
l. The National CFIDS Foundation Begins to Disclose its Vital Research Discoveries to the Worldwide Patient Community; National CFIDS Foundation Investigative Exclusive, 2004;
2. Dr. Hokama's celebration, history: Dr. Hokama's biography; National Forum Newsletter, Summer 2017
3. Health effects of Chernobyl 25 years after the reactor catastrophe; German Affiliate of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, 2011;
4. Fundamental Mechanisms Underlying the Ill Health and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Suffered by Atomic and Gulf War Veterans: A Unifying Hypothesis" by Mothersill and Seymour; Genetics, Evolution and Radiation;
The National CFIDS Foundation * 103 Aletha Rd, Needham Ma 02492 *(781) 449-3535 Fax (781) 449-8606