Sunday, September 30, 2007

World Life Research Institute Overview

In 1958, Doctor Halstead left Loma Linda University and the School of Tropical and Preventive Medicine(STPM) that he founded, in order to start his own research facility, World Life Research Institute (WLRI), a nonprofit 501c3 organization. WLRI was his own personal research facility where he could unleash his passion without the restrictions of the bureaucracy and other limitations that frustrated him at Loma Linda.

But the nature of his work and travels meant that WLRI quickly developed into a phenomenal museum, as well as a world class documentation and reference center. WLRI has countless, books and other documentation on as many subjects as Dr. Halstead was an expert on, and had conducted research into, over the course of his lifetime. Due to this unique documentation and reference qualities of WLRI, it served as an international reference center for the United Nations and the World Health Organization.
Bruce W. Halstead, M.D.
Founder and Director of World Life Research Institute
Pictured with beloved dog Toto in front of WLRI

Halstead’s scientific investigations took him around the world in search of the world of natural-based medicine, including the fields of Marine Bio-Toxicology, Toxic Plants and animals of the world, tropical medicine, global pollution, Chelation Therapy, Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy, DMSO, Laetrile, Coral Calcium, Medicinal Plants, Radiation sickness, AIDS, cancer, Adaptogenic Immune Enhancement, Nutrition, and Molecular Bio-Chemistry.

The physical facilities for WLRI have been located in Grand Terrace for over 45 years now. It was there that Doctor Halstead conducted his research and wrote the vast bulk of his writings. During periods when the Institute enjoyed stable funding, there were twelve or more employees working there including several other research scientists. During the leanest of times, it would be the lone Research Scientist working on his various projects, sometimes with the help of a volunteer assistant.

But the discipline and dedication to his work meant that Doctor Halstead was always making progress with the enthusiasm of someone on the verge of a major scientific breakthrough. Continuous progress into his research was always a constant. So too was progress on his writing and turning out new publications. He lived each day with a schedule that reflected military precision. Every moment of every day was a part of his routine that rarely varied. His days would start early and would continue well into the evening. During the normal working hours of 8 to 5, he would be mixing business, meetings, and research, with time spent writing. But come evening time, his attention would be dedicated purely to his writing.

Often his research projects and writings would be in unrelated fields at the same time and yet his focus to each was intensely comprehensive. Had he lived a thousand years, his work would have never been complete. And so it was no surprise that when he made his transition in 2002, he left a multitude of projects and publications yet to be finished.

A Now Empty Chair sits at the Desk
of the Founder and Director of WLRI

The Roll-Top Desk where Doctor Halstead
Researched and Wrote most of his publications

The Manual Royal Typewritter used by Doctor Halstead
to write most of his manuscripts until he finally
converted to a computer in the early 90's

Research and Writing Station where Doctor Halstead
spent the bulk of his time and wrote most of his publications

WLRI as Library
WLRI was not only the venue for all of Doctor Halstead's research and writing efforts. But in the course of the sixty years that followed its incorporation, WLRI developed into a one of a kind unique library covering the same fields of study reflected in his research: bio-toxicology, ichthyology, marine biology, oceanography, environmental sciences, zoology, botany, ethno botany, herbal medicine, Chinese traditional medicine, alternative medicine, wholistic (holistic) medicine, anthropology, bio-chemistry, and even a small library of law books as related to freedom of health care by physicians.

Part of the Library holdings at WLRI
Book Shelves above file cabinets filled with documentation

Ancient hand-bound Chinese Herbal books

The Pen Ts'ao Kang Mu
Great Ancient Chinese Herbal

Ancient Chinese Herbal book
Each page featuring a hand painted drawing

The 16th Century Honzo Pen Ts'ao on rice paper

WLRI as Museum
Halstead’s scientific investigations took him around the world in search of natural-based medicine. From working with the Jivaro 'head-shrinking' Indians of Ecuador; to working with Russian Professor Brekhman, the father of Siberian Ginseng; working with Jacques Cousteau and the Cousteau; studying Traditional Chinese Herbal Medicine, in China; to leading expeditions to the South Pacific, Doctor Halstead would always return from his travels with relevant artifacts from around the world.

Many of these relics and artifacts are now priceless and irreplaceable. The totality of all of his collections are too extensive for more than a small percentage to be on display at WLRI. Many of the items are in storage and everything is in need of professional museum preservation efforts.

Hand Carved Wooden Story Boards from Palau

Artifacts, Photos, and other Museum Pieces at WLRI

Some of the Many Artifacts that are on Display at WLRI

WLRI Collections
WLRI is also home to a multitude of natural collections including: marine specimens, sea shells, shark jaws, herbal samples collected through out the Amazon, botanical specimen collections, botanical artwork (including a large collection of Japanese water-color illustrations of medicinal plants), scientific illustrations commissioned by BWH, and a wide range of scientific documentation of botanical and marine-derived medicines.
Siberian Ginseng illustration
hand painted by Japanese artist

Botanical Illustration part of WLRI collection

WLRI Original Animal Illustration
by Robert H. Knabenbauer

WLRI Marine Specimens Collected by Doctor Halstead

The History of
World Life Research Institute

WLRI First Established at Reche Canyon
Doctor Halstead founded the nonprofit World Life Research Institute in 1958. A close friend of his, Frank Cox had invested in a large portion of a rural unincorporated area of San Bernardino County known as Reche Canyon. With the exception of a few sprawling ranches, the region was mostly wilderness area and lack of demand had kept real estate prices cheap. Cox gave his friend an entire bluff located half way up Reche Canyon that amounted to over 645 acres on which to build his new facility. There was no access roads, utilities, or running water available.

But Halstead was full of determination, will power, and a drive to make his newly founded facility survive. Before long he had cut a road into the hillside (now Center Street) and had broken ground on a new administrative building along with a research wing with a dozen lab rooms that were built in a Japanese architecture. Using his military connections, he obtained an old army barracks and had the building relocated to Reche Canyon thus completing his new facility.
Doctor Halstead conducting field research
Utilizing his grant getting talents from Loma Linda, he soon had a full administrative staff and a dozen or more scientist working on as many projects. Much of this early research was funded by government grants, primarily through the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The research was focused on the search for new medicines from natural sources. The source for these natural compound was focused on two categories: drugs from the sea and drugs from the jungles of the Amazon.

Drugs from the sea was a natural outgrowth of Doctor Halstead's life long love of the ocean and his twenty-two year academic work that resulted in his monumental three volume work: Poisonous and Venomous Marine Animals. This phenomenal publication was not only the largest publication effort ever undertaken by the Government Printing Office, it stands as THE definitive work on the subject. Experts in the various fields of oceanography concur that this outstanding work will never be out done.
Doctor Halstead on an expedition to the South Pacific

Drugs from the jungles of the Amazon was an outgrowth of Doctor Halstead's interest in herbal medicine. His approach was to work closely with the tribal witchdoctors, sorcerers, and other 'medicine men' of the jungles. The basic premises of his investigations was to examine the botanical compounds being used by the indigenous natives for the range of diseases and ailments for which they were being used for thousands of years. He would then apply modern scientific methodology to sort out the effectiveness of those compounds from those that were surrounded with mythology but had no efficacy or basis in science. The movie 'Medicine Man' with Sean Connery (1992) was loosely based on Doctor Halstead's work.
Dr. Wiburn H Ferguson holding a shrunken head
standing next to an Jivaro Indian and his son

Doctor Halstead's research into drugs from the jungles of the Amazon started when he was still at the School of Tropical and Preventive Medicine (STPM), Loma Linda University in the early 50's. He made contact with Dr. Wilburn H. Ferguson who spent twenty years working with the Jivaro Indians of Ecquador and the botanical compounds they used for shrinking heads, including the human heads of their enemies. Halstead spent time with Ferguson and the Jivaro Indians collecting samples that he studied for their potential cancer fighting and tumor shrinking qualities, while still at STPM. Halstead also had several of the shrunken human heads and a couple of shrunken monkey heads on display at STPM before they were stolen.
Shrunken Human Head from the Jivaro Indians

The Zoo Days of Early WLRI
It was about this time that he was contacted by the owner of a small zoo who was being evicted from his previous location. Being the zoologist and animal lover that he was, Halstead offered his land and before long he a small collection of tigers, lions, and bears, Oh MY! The mini zoo didn't last long with complaints from neighbors and local government officials and the zoo was forced to close. Still it offered a colorful chapter in what would become a relatively short lived dream for World Life at the Reche Canyon location.

The End of the Reche Canyon Era
Halstead was much too trusting and way to focused on his research to ever pay the proper attention to day to day business operations. There came a time when the entire operation hinged on a single critical grant that was well into fruition. Confident that all was well, Halstead left for a conference in Hawaii. In his absence, one of his trusted research scientist turned out to be unscrupulous in his dealings and convinced the grant giver that he could do the work for less. He told the other employees that Halstead had left town for good and that they should grab what they could as Halstead would never be back to pay them their due.

Dr. Halstead returned from the conference to find his facility in shambles. Research and office equipment was gone and research experiments were destroyed midstream. The employees were gone as was the con artist that caused the disaster. He had taken the grant money and left the country. The combination of this disaster and the overwhelming challenge of pioneering his research institute in a remote wilderness area cause him to realize that he had to down size and relocate to his own back yard.

WLRI Moves to Grand Terrace
In 1958, Bruce and Joy discovered a wonderful 10 acres parcel in the then unincorporated community of Grand Terrace. The property was covered with citrus groves, and there was an old dilapidated barn they tore down to build their new home. They subdivided the property and sold off the extra lots in order to pay off the three acres that they retained. When the challenges and difficulties of Reche Canyon proved to formidable for progress on his research, he moved the Institute into a small building in the backyard of that property.

The initial building consisted of three small rooms, an outer reception office, his main library and personal office room, and a small lab room in the rear of the building. This building was done under an emergency basis as he desperately needed shelf space for his books that he was able to salvage from the Reche Canyon location and work space to continue his research. Lack of funding kept the project small and much of the labor was performed by Dr. Halstead and donated by friends.

He was hanging metal lathe for the interior plastering while working on this building that his hammer chipped off a small piece of metal that flew into his eye. It was late on a Friday and he felt that he had gotten the foreign item out of his eye and so chose to ignore the problem. But by Monday, the eye had become infected and by the time he had proper treatment and eye surgery, he had permanently lost over ninety percent of the vision in that eye. However, he learned methods to compensate for the disability and many people close to Dr. Halstead never knew the problem ever existed.

Some of the little design and planning that went into the creation of this 'mini-institute' was to accommodate what had become a trademark of his office at the Reche Canyon facility. This was a large world map that covered the entire wall behind his desk. With the map measurements in mind, the building had to be tall enough for it and the wall had to be wide enough to include the full width of the map and a door way into the next room. This one important design element was something that Doctor Halstead was quite proud of and would mention on almost every tour he gave of the facility.
World Map covering the entire wall behind his desk at WLRI (West Wall)

With the exception of the 'Map Wall', the remaining walls of the larger main room were built with shelf space covering them to accommodate the thousands of books that he had already acquired at the time the building was finished. Doctor Halstead's love of books is legendary and rivaled his love for science, research, writing, travel, and animals.

During the good years when funding was flowing, he had a full time bibliographer, Pat Lehner, who would travel the world in search of old rare books on subjects relative to his work. But even during the lean years, when phones and utilities were subject to being turned off, the mail order books would continue to arrive in the mail. It was indicators like this that revealed his priorities. Whether writing or collecting them, books were at the top of his priority list. His family understood that it was always difficult to find a good present to give him unless it was in the form of a book. Whether it was his birthday or Christmas, you could always score a winner with a good coffee table book on any aspect of the natural world.
Reference Books in the Main Room at WLRI (South Side)

Reference Books in the Main Room at WLRI (South Side)

Reference Books in the Main Room at WLRI (North Side)

Reference Books in the Main Room at WLRI (North Side)

Book shelves and Artifacts sit above a row
of filing cabinets in Main Room (East end)

With the Advent of the Vietnam War and the Nixon Administration, the federal government started curtailing the funding of grants not directly benefiting the war effort. New grant funding became more and more difficult to obtain and Doctor Halstead was growing weary of the tenuous process that was constantly becoming more bureaucratic. Part of that bureaucracy was to have a committee composed of your 'peers' come to your facility and review your research.

Doctor Halstead came to feel that those so called 'peers' were clueless about his field of study and he grew tired of trying to educated them about the science that he felt they had no ability to comprehend. He soon developed a high level of contempt for both the peer review process and the entire bureaucratic grant getting process in general. Meanwhile he was being approached by various business interest that wanted to fund his research for their own commercial benefit.

Unfortunately for Doctor Halstead and WLRI, this left him vulnerable to a lot of unscrupulous con artist that were set on exploiting his work and coning him out of his resources. The combined problems with funding continued on a downward spiral leading into the early 70's. At that point, WLRI was without any funding, employees, phones, and other utilities. This was not only a dark point for WLRI but it soon proved to be a turning point and a new beginning for the distinguished career of Doctor Halstead.

It was then that one of his medical school classmates stepped in to remind him that he was still a Medical Doctor and that most doctors were doing quite well in the traditional practice of medicine. His doctor friend was the head of the Emergency Room for Loma Linda Community Hospital. He offered his classmate an opportunity that he could not refuse. He told him that he could work the graveyard shift in ER. He told him that he would be sleeping most of the time and therefore he could continue running WLRI during the day.
Doctor Halstead practicing ER medicine
at Loma Linda Community Hospital

After an almost 25 year absence from the daily practice of medicine, it was an enormous challenge to 'bone' up on current techniques and submerge himself back into the practice of medicine. But he met the challenge with open arms and rose to the moment. Soon he was back in the circle of the current practices of modern emergency medicine and before long the hospital extended 'hospital privileges' to him. This meant that he could start seeing non-emergency patients and could admit them if necessary to be hospitalized.

Soon the rapport he developed with his ER patients transfered over to seeing those patients for non-emergency conditions. Before long he had a patient complaining of painful arthritis and so he checked with some of his colleagues at the hospital to see what the current treatment entailed. When those doctors told him what they were prescribing for arthritis he immediately turned to the Physicians Desk Reference (PDR) on drugs to see what was in them. Then relying on his background as a bio-toxicologist, he soon discovered that these meds were often toxic and in some cases were known carcinogens. This left him in a moral dilemma of how to treat those patients.

It was then that he was introduced to the new emerging therapy known as Chelation Therapy. At that time there was only a small handful of doctors practicing this innovative therapy which utilizes EDTA, a synthetic amino acid, to bond with heavy metals such as lead, cadmium, and calcium and remove them from the body through the urine. Halstead's initial investigations into this therapy showed promised for treating a range of problems including arthritis, hardening of the arteries, stroke, heart attacks, and diabetes. Within a year, Halstead started a health clinic practicing Chelation and other alternative health modalities.

He also submerged himself into research on Chelation Therapy and soon became the world's leading expert on the subject with the publication of his definitive text; The Scientific Basis of EDTA Chelation Therapy (1979). That research and that book, became a turning point for the focus of Doctor Halstead's work at WLRI for the remainder of his life.

What followed in the next twenty-five years was the establishment of Doctor Halstead as a leading expert in alternative medicine and a pioneer of numerous health modalities. He was soon in constant demand as an expert witness in legal cases surrounding this emerging field of medicine. He was also in constant demand as the key note speaker for conventions for professional academies and the lay public alike.

At WLRI, Halstead's research was focused on these new therapies and integrating his earlier background of research on bio-toxicology, drugs from the sea, and from botanical compounds. More and more, that research started focusing on the issue of immune enhancement. In part the explanation for this was the obsession that conventional medicine was having with drugs, radiation, and chemotherapy, in the treatment of cancer. All three of these approaches constitutes a direct assault on the human immune system and Halstead's focus on immune enhancement held promise as either an alternative treatment or as compensation for a patient who had already had their immune system compromised by conventional therapy.

With the discovery of the first AIDS case, Doctor Halstead became obsessed with unlocking the secrets of the human immune system. His strongest belief was that a cure for AIDS could be discovered through the modulation and enhancement of the immune system.

The last two decades of his work were focused on integrating various natural compounds from his life-long work with drugs from the oceans, jungles, and herbal medicine into the quest for a cure for chronic and degenerative diseases, primarily cancer and AIDS. Few that knew Doctor Halstead well, would ever doubt that given a few more years, he would have accomplished his goals.

When Doctor Bruce W. Halstead passed away on December 5, 2002, he left behind a mountain of incredible legacy, an ocean of research and publications, and his first love which incorporates both his legacy and his work: the World Life Research Institute. The future of World Life and it's extensive holdings is uncertain at this time.

It is the goal of this site to bring together those that consider themselves supporters of this maverick doctor and the vast body of work he contributed. His work needs to be continued! The holdings of World Life Research Institute need to be preserved. And the issues relating to the environment and health need to be expanded and moved into the next evolution.

Those of us who are left behind to look after WLRI and Doctor Halstead's legacy are going to need a lot of help, both professionally and financially. If you are inclined to help, please read the post on "How you can help Bruce and World Life Research Institute" or CLICK HERE.

For more information, to find out how you can help with Doctor Halstead's vital life work, continue his legacy, or support the preservation of WLRI, please contact:

or Contact

Larry D. Halstead
(760) 255-2012


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