Dr. Martin Blank, 1933-2018 Courageous Researcher: A Visionary with Fearless Honesty
Martin Blank Ph.D., died on June 13, 2018. Friend, colleague, mentor, visionary, exacting researcher, courageous inspiration. Dr. Blank was admired in academia, government, industry and activist circles for fearless honesty and ability to explain complex cellular bioelectromagnetics with accompanying environmental effects on tech-loving societies. Long-time faculty at the Department of Physiology and Cellular Biophysics at Columbia University, New York, he was a principled, respected in-fighter in professional circles. Dr. Blank served at high organizational levels on many important regulatory entities throughout the United States and Europe. His research focused on the biophysics of membrane transport and electrochemistry of proteins. He established that living DNA can act as a fractal antenna, with very low-intensity nonionizing radiation — endemic to all wireless technology and powerline transmission — capable of producing heat shock proteins and cellular stress, resulting in cascading negative effects throughout the biome across species.
From his son, Ari R Blank:
I wish to share with you the sad news that my father, Dr. Martin Blank, has passed away at the age of 85. He did so peacefully, in his sleep, this past Wednesday, June 13.
Dr. Martin Blank
1933 – 2018
Please see the following link for the obituary written and approved by his family: https://emsafetyallian
The family requests that, in lieu of flowers, donations shall be made to the Electromagnetic Safety Alliance, for which Dr. Blank was an advisor. Donations may be made via PayPal.
1) Visit https://emsafetyallia
2) Scroll to the bottom of the page
3) Click the ‘Donate’ button.
Memorial proceedings are TBD.
Ari R Blank
Obituary: Leading EMF expert Dr. Martin Blank, Ph.D
Dr. Martin Blank, Ph.D., who made many lasting contributions to the scientific community, has passed away of natural causes at the age of 85. As a leading expert on the health effects of electromagnetic radiation, Dr. Blank was a strong advocate for the use of science to create a better and healthier world.
|Throughout his lengthy career, Dr. Blank published over 200 papers and reviews, authored numerous books, held appointments at 11 leading universities around the world and the US Office of Naval Research. He also organized and led many meetings, including two World Congresses on Electricity and Magnetism in Biology and Medicine, and he started the Gordon Research Conferences on Bioelectrochemistry. He has been Chairman of the Organic and Biological Division of the Electrochemical Society, President of the Bioelectrochemical Society, President of the Bioelectromagnetics Society, and has been on editorial boards of Journal of the Electrochemical Society,|
|Bioelectrochemistry and Bioenergetics, Electromagnetic Medicine and Biology. In 2014 his book, “Overpowered” (7 Stories Press), which summarized his findings regarding the potential dangers of electromagnetic radiation, was published.|
Through his work, Dr. Blank established himself as one of the strongest voices globally in the quest to better understand and regulate the health effects of electromagnetic fields.
Breaking new boundaries
Dr. Blank was born in New York in 1933 as the child of immigrants, Leon and Rebecca. English was the third of five languages in which he became fluent.
An early interest in science led him to be accepted to the Bronx High School of Science, after which he proceeded to complete two PhDs: one in physical chemistry from Columbia University, and a second in colloid science – an interdisciplinary field involving chemistry, physics, and nanoscience – from Cambridge University.
|In his early career, he studied the biological membranes that encase living cells and the effects of electric fields on such membranes. In 1987 he read a paper by Dr. Reba Goodman, a colleague at Columbia University, that suggested everyday EMFs like power lines and electrical appliances had an effect on living cells. At that time, only ionizing forms of radiation like X-rays were acknowledged as harmful to humans.|
Intrigued, Dr. Blank approached Dr. Goodman about her findings and initiated what was to become a long and fruitful scientific partnership. Though their research contradicted the accepted paradigm of the day, they continued to push boundaries, demonstrating observable, repeatable health effects of EMF on living cells.
Their results were published in numerous peer-reviewed journals and were subsequently confirmed by other independent scientists around the world.
Acting with conviction
Dr. Blank’s research into EMFs repeatedly showed that non-ionizing radiation does affect human cells. He believed that it would be in our best interest to take stronger precautions, as a way of securing a healthier future, and that there would be nothing to lose by taking such action.
“You take a certain amount of precaution as a result of a risk that has been identified,” Dr. Blank said at the 1st public forum in the U.S. on EMF effects on Children, Fetuses, and Fertility in 2013. “The risk can turn out to be a false alarm, in which case you haven’t lost anything really; what you’ve done is prevented damage that might have occurred might it have been so.”
He wrote letters to schools, companies, and government bodies – ardent letters laying out solid research-backed reasons why they should take precautions around EMFs; not chiding them for their practices but giving them helpful council on what they could be doing to better protect the community.
In 2015 he led a publicized appeal to the United Nations and World Health Organization, calling for greater attention to the health risks of EMFs. 190 scientists from around the world took part in the appeal, unified in their beliefs that the scientific research around electromagnetic radiation was not only compelling but urgent.
In conjunction with his conviction and willingness to act, Dr. Blank was also acutely and realistically aware of the world we’ve built for ourselves and of the advantages of technology. He didn’t seek to eradicate wireless devices or take steps backward, but rather to find a healthy balance between technological progress and human health.
“My message… is not to abandon gadgets—like most people I too love and utilize EMF- generating gadgets,” he wrote in his 2014 book, Overpowered. “Instead, I want you to realize that EMF poses a real risk to living creatures and that industrial and product safety standards must and can be reconsidered.”
Throughout his career, Dr. Blank held many leadership roles — including terms as President of the Bioelectrochemical Society, and Chairman of the Organic and Biological Division of the Electrochemical Society — gave hundreds of speeches and lectures, edited various journals, and sat on the organizing committees of numerous conferences and world congresses.
Dr. Blank also had a knack for translating complex scientific concepts into a language anyone can understand. His rigorous research reports generally served the scientific community and his 2014 book Overpowered (7 Stories Press) offered all readers, inaccessible and captivating prose, the information they needed to better protect their health.
In this way, his work has had a broad impact, reaching the general public as well as his many pupils, colleagues, and the scientific community.
He will be remembered as someone who fought against the private, profit-driven efforts of industries to obscure information from the public; and as someone who welcomed genuine discussion and criticism as catalysts for true scientific progress.
|The goal of Dr. Blank’s work was not to generate fear or cause alarm but to use rigorous and objective research to get closer to the truth. And, ultimately, to use this truth to secure ourselves, and future generations, a healthier future.|
Dr. Blank is survived by his wife, Marion, sons, Jonathan and Ari, daughter, Donna, and his siblings Esther and Efrom.
The family requests that, in lieu of flowers, donations shall be made to the Electromagnetic Safety Alliance <https://emsafetyalliance.org/
From Dr. Devra Davis:
Martin Blank was a scholar and a gentleman in the truest sense of the phrase. He earned two separate document degrees and created paradigm-changing work in several fields.
As a leader in bioelectromagnetics, he championed an understanding of the subtle ways that living things respond to changes in frequency and power. With Reba Goodman, he developed innovative work documenting the importance of chaperone molecules or heat shock proteins. He also laid the groundwork for what is becoming a vibrant effort to apply electrical concepts to medicine therapeutically.
On a personal note, Marty was an irreverent, charming, and patient mentor. As a speaker at the EHT expert forum on wireless radiation and health in 2009, he generously explained the innovative work accomplished at Columbia University. When I explained my then naïve view of what it would be involved to change the policy process, he quipped “Good luck kiddo! I’m not sure you know quite what you’re dealing with.”
As with most things we discussed over the years, he was right and he took the time on several occasions to convince me of that. His book ‘Overpowered’ should have received a much broader audience but we now know that the reasons we have not been able to break out have little to do with the quality of this work but reflect a complex mesh where the playbook of the tobacco industry has become the standard.
I have lost an inspiring and patient mentor. His family has lost a doting proud parent and husband. And the world has lost a giant in the field. But Martin leaves us with a huge footprint that is continuing to set directions for critically important work today and for years to come.
Below are his important papers on EMFs and their biological effects. Full-text links, if available, were provided.
Electromagnetic fields stress living cells.
Electromagnetic fields (EMF), in both ELF (extremely low frequency) and radio frequency (RF) ranges, activate the cellular stress response, a protective mechanism that induces the expression of stress response genes, e.g., HSP70, and increased levels of stress proteins, e.g., hsp70. The 20 different stress protein families are evolutionarily conserved and act as ‘chaperones’ in the cell when they ‘help’ repair and refold damaged proteins and transport them across cell membranes. Induction of the stress response involves activation of DNA, and despite the large difference in energy between ELF and RF, the same cellular pathways respond in both frequency ranges. Specific DNA sequences on the promoter of the HSP70 stress gene are responsive to EMF, and studies with model biochemical systems suggest that EMF could interact directly with electrons in DNA. While low energy EMF interacts with DNA to induce the stress response, increasing EMF energy in the RF range can lead to breaks in DNA strands. It is clear that in order to protect living cells, EMF safety limits must be changed from the current thermal standard, based on energy, to one based on biological responses that occur long before the threshold for thermal changes.
Protein and DNA reactions stimulated by electromagnetic fields.
The stimulation of protein and DNA by electromagnetic fields (EMF) has been problematic because the fields do not appear to have sufficient energy to directly affect such large molecules. Studies with electric and magnetic fields in the extremely low-frequency range have shown that weak fields can cause charge movement. It has also been known for some time that redistribution of charges in large molecules can trigger conformational changes that are driven by large hydration energies. This review considers examples of direct effects of electric and magnetic fields on charge transfer, and structural changes driven by such changes. Conformational changes that arise from alterations in charge distribution play a key role in membrane transport proteins, including ion channels, and probably account for DNA stimulation to initiate protein synthesis. It appears likely that weak EMF can control and amplify biological processes through their effects on charge distribution.
Cell biology and EMF safety standards.
Living cells react defensively and start to synthesize stress proteins when exposed to potentially harmful stimuli. Electromagnetic fields (EMF) are among the many different environmental stimuli that initiate stress protein synthesis. Although there is greater energy transfer and heating due to EMF at higher frequencies, there is no greater stress response. The cellular stress response is far more sensitive to EMF than to an increase in temperature. It should be obvious that an EMF safety standard should be based on the more sensitive, natural biological response.
Electromagnetic fields and health: DNA-based dosimetry.
We propose a biologically based measure of EMF radiation to replace the energy-based “specific absorption rate” (SAR). A wide range of EMF frequencies has been linked to an increased risk of cancer. The SAR value used to measure the EMF dose and set the safety standard in the radiofrequency (RF) range fails as a standard for predicting cancer risk in the ELF power frequency range. Because cancers are believed to arise from mutations in DNA, changes in DNA induced by interaction with EMF could be a better measure of the biologically effective dose in both frequency ranges. The changes can be measured by transcriptional alterations and/or translational changes in specific proteins. Because ionizing radiation also causes DNA damage, a biologically based standard related to stimulation of DNA could apply over a much wider range of the electromagnetic spectrum. A safety standard for exposure to a wide range of non ionizing frequencies can be based on the documented changes in DNA biochemistry that arise from interactions with EMF.
DNA is a fractal antenna in electromagnetic fields.
To review the responses of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) to electromagnetic fields (EMF) in different frequency ranges, and characterise the properties of DNA as an antenna.
MATERIALS AND METHODS:
We examined published reports of increased stress protein levels and DNA strand breaks due to EMF interactions, both of which are indicative of DNA damage. We also considered antenna properties such as electronic conduction within DNA and its compact structure in the nucleus.
EMF interactions with DNA are similar over a range of non-ionising frequencies, i.e., extremely low frequency (ELF) and radio frequency (RF) ranges. There are similar effects in the ionising range, but the reactions are more complex.
The wide frequency range of interaction with EMF is the functional characteristic of a fractal antenna, and DNA appears to possess the two structural characteristics of fractal antennas, electronic conduction and self symmetry. These properties contribute to greater reactivity of DNA with EMF in the environment, and the DNA damage could account for increases in cancer epidemiology, as well as variations in the rate of chemical evolution in early geologic history.
Extremely low frequency electromagnetic fields activate the ERK cascade, increase hsp70 protein levels and promote regeneration in Planaria.
To use regenerating Planaria Dugesia dorotocethala as a model to determine whether an intermittent modulated extremely low frequency electro-magnetic field (ELF-EMF) produces elevated levels of the heat shock protein hsp70 and stimulates intracellular pathways known to be involved in injury and repair. We focused on serum response element (SRE) binding through the extra-cellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) cascade.
MATERIALS AND METHODS:
Planaria were transected equidistant between the tip of the head and the tip of the tail. Individual head and tail portions from the same worm were exposed to a 60 Hertz 80 milliGauss ELF-EMF for 1 h twice daily for 15 days post-transection under carefully controlled exposure conditions. The regenerating heads and tails were photographed and the lengths measured at three-day intervals. In other experiments, the timing of the appearance of pigmented eyes was monitored in the tail portion at 12-h intervals following transection in both ELF-EMF exposed and sham control. In some experiments protein lysates were analysed for hsp70 levels, doubly phosphorylated (pp)-ERK, Elk-1 kinase activity and serum response factor (SRF)-SRE binding.
ELF-EMF exposure during the initial 3-days post-surgery caused a significant increase in regeneration for both heads and tails, but especially tails. The first appearance of eyes occurred at day seven post-transection in tail portions exposed to ELF-EMF. In the sham control tail samples the initial appearance of eyes occurred 48 h later. Concurrently, ELF-EMF-exposed heads and tails exhibited an elevation in the level of hsp70 protein, an activation of an ERK cascade, and an increase in SRF-SRE binding.
Exposures to a modulated sinusoidal ELF-EMF were delivered by a Helmholtz configuration at a frequency of 60 Hz and 80 mG twice a day for one hour. This is accompanied by an increase in hsp70 protein levels, activation of specific kinases and upregulation of transcription factors that are generally associated with repair processes.
Myocardial function improved by electromagnetic field induction of stress protein hsp70.
Studies on myocardial function have shown that hsp70, stimulated by an increase in temperature, leads to improved survival following ischemia-reperfusion (I-R). Low frequency electromagnetic fields (EMFs) also induce the stress protein hsp70, but without elevating temperature. We have examined the hemodynamic changes in concert with EMF pre-conditioning and the induction of hsp70 to determine whether improved myocardial function occurs following I-R injury in Sprague-Dawley rats. Animals were exposed to EMF (60 Hz, 8 microT) for 30 min prior to I-R. Ischemia was then induced by ligation of left anterior descending coronary artery (LAD) for 30 min, followed by 30 min of reperfusion. Blood and heart tissue levels for hsp70 were determined by Western blot and RNA transcription by rtPCR. Significant upregulation of the HSP70 gene and increased hsp70 levels were measured in response to EMF pre-exposures. Invasive hemodynamics, as measured using a volume conductance catheter, demonstrated significant recovery of systolic contractile function after 30 min of reperfusion following EMF exposure. Additionally, isovolemic relaxation, a measure of ventricular diastolic function, was markedly improved in EMF-treated animals. In conclusion, non-invasive EMF induction of hsp70 preserved myocardial function and has the potential to improve tolerance to ischemic injury.
A mechanism for stimulation of biosynthesis by electromagnetic fields: charge transfer in DNA and base pair separation.
Electrons have been shown to move in DNA, and a specific DNA sequence is associated with the response to EM fields. In addition, there is evidence from biochemical reactions that EM fields can accelerate electron transfer. Interaction with electrons could displace electrons in H-bonds that hold DNA together leading to chain separation and initiating transcription. The effect of charging due to electron displacement on the energetics of DNA aggregation shows that electron transfer would favor separation of base pairs, and that DNA geometry is optimized for disaggregation under such conditions. Electrons in the H-bonds of both DNA and the surrounding water molecules fluctuate at frequencies that are much higher than the frequencies of the EM fields studied. The characteristics of the fluctuations suggest that the applied EM fields are effectively DC pulses and that interactions extend to microwave frequencies.
The Precautionary Principle must be guided by EMF research.
Regulatory action based on the Precautionary Principle is generally guided by the results of epidemiology studies. Even though laboratory research on electromagnetic fields (EMF) has supplied much relevant information and continues to do so, it is often overlooked. Laboratory research has shown that EMF of many frequencies stimulate many biological systems, and at low thresholds of both field strength and duration. It has also shown that EMF stimulate protein synthesis in cells and accelerate electron transfer reactions. In the last few years, important practical insights have been provided by the research on the cellular stress response, where the same specific biological response is induced in cells by both ELF (power frequency) and RF (radio frequency) fields, despite the very different energy levels. Since this protective biological response is not determined by the level of energy absorbed, safety standards based on the best available biological evidence must (1) recognize non thermal protective responses and (2) include cumulative exposures across the EM spectrum.
BEMS, WHO, and the precautionary principle.
- Sensitivity of children to EMF exposure. Proceedings of a symposium sponsored by the WHO International EMF Project. June 9-10, 2004. Istanbul, Turkey. [Bioelectromagnetics. 2005]
Effects of mobile phone radiation on reproduction and development in Drosophila melanogaster.
In this report we examined the effects of a discontinuous radio frequency (RF) signal produced by a GSM multiband mobile phone (900/1,900 MHz; SAR approximately 1.4 W/kg) on Drosophila melanogaster, during the 10-day developmental period from egg laying through pupation. As found earlier with low frequency exposures, the non-thermal radiation from the GSM mobile phone increased numbers of offspring, elevated hsp70 levels, increased serum response element (SRE) DNA-binding and induced the phosphorylation of the nuclear transcription factor, ELK-1. The rapid induction of hsp70 within minutes, by a non-thermal stress, together with identified components of signal transduction pathways, provide sensitive and reliable biomarkers that could serve as the basis for realistic mobile phone safety guidelines.
Do electromagnetic fields interact with electrons in the Na,K-ATPase?
The effects of low frequency electric and magnetic fields on several biochemical systems, including the Na,K-ATPase, indicate that electromagnetic (EM) fields interact with electrons. The frequency optima for two enzymes in response to EM fields are very close to their turnover numbers, suggesting that these interactions directly affect reaction rates. Nevertheless, generally accepted ideas about Na,K-ATPase function and ion transport mechanisms do not consider interactions with electrons. To resolve the clash of paradigms, we hypothesize interaction with transient electrons and protons that arise from flickering of H-bonds in the hydrated protein. These transient charges in the enzyme could provide a trigger for the sequence of conformation changes that are part of the ion transport mechanism. If the distributions of transient electrons and protons in the membrane are affected by their concentration and the membrane potential, as expected from electric double layer theory, this can account for the different effects of low frequency electric and magnetic fields, as well as for the observation that membrane hyperpolarization reverses the ATPase reaction to generate ATP.
Comment: a biological guide for electromagnetic safety: the stress response.
Questions of safety of electromagnetic (EM) fields should be based on relevant biological properties, i.e., specific cellular reactions to potentially harmful stimuli. The stress response is a well documented protective reaction of plant and animal cells to a variety of environmental threats, and it is stimulated by both extremely low frequency (ELF) and radio frequency (RF) EM fields. It involves activation of DNA to initiate synthesis of stress proteins. Thermal and non-thermal stimuli affect different segments of DNA and utilize different biochemical pathways. However, both ELF and RF stimulate the same non-thermal pathway. Since the same biochemical reactions are stimulated in different frequency ranges with very different specific absorption rates (SARs), SAR level is not a valid basis for safety standards. Studies of EM field interactions with DNA and with model systems provide insight into a plausible mechanism that can be effective in ELF and RF ranges.
Initial interactions in electromagnetic field-induced biosynthesis.
Low frequency electromagnetic (EM) fields induce gene expression, and recent insights into physical interactions of EM fields with model systems suggest a mechanism that could initiate this process. The consistently low thresholds at which EM fields stimulate biological processes indicate that they require little energy. Since it has been shown that such weak fields accelerate electron transfer reactions, they could stimulate transcription by interacting with electrons in DNA to destabilize the H-bonds holding the two DNA strands together. Such a mechanism is consistent with the low electron affinity of the bases in previously identified electromagnetic response elements (EMREs) needed for EM field interaction with DNA. It is also in line with both endogenous and in vitro stimulation of biosynthesis by electric fields. The frequency response of several EM sensitive biological systems suggests that EM fields require repetition and are most effective at frequencies that coincide with natural rhythms of the processes affected.
Electromagnetic acceleration of the Belousov-Zhabotinski reaction.
Acceleration of the Belousov-Zhabotinski (BZ) reaction, in stirred homogeneous solutions, by low frequency electromagnetic (EM) fields has provided new insights into EM interaction mechanisms. The acceleration varies inversely with the basal reaction rate, indicating that the applied magnetic field and the intrinsic chemical driving forces affect the same electron transfer reaction. The amplitude and frequency dependence of the EM field interactions are also consistent with interaction during electron transfer. A mechanism based on interaction with moving electrons offers a way of explaining the ability of EM fields to stimulate gene expression, in particular the stress response, since electrons have been shown to move in DNA.
Insights into electromagnetic interaction mechanisms.
Low frequency (< 300 Hz) electromagnetic (EM) fields induce biological changes that include effects ranging from increased enzyme reaction rates to increased transcript levels for specific genes. The induction of stress gene HSP70 expression by exposure to EM fields provides insight into how EM fields interact with cells and tissues. Insights into the mechanism(s) are also provided by examination of the interaction of EM fields with moving charges and their influence on enzyme reaction rates in cell-free systems. Biological studies with in vitro model systems have focused, in general, on the nature of the signal transduction pathways involved in response to EM fields. It is likely, however, that EM fields also interact directly with electrons in DNA to stimulate biosynthesis. Identification of an EM field-sensitive DNA sequence in the heat shock 70 (HSP70) promoter, points to the application of EM fields in two biomedical applications: cytoprotection and gene therapy. EM field induction of the stress protein hsp70 may also provide a useful biomarker for establishing a science-based safety standard for the design of cell phones and their transmission towers.