October 3, 2002
Low Dose Radiation Research Grants Awarded
The following news release is being issued by the U.S.
Department of Energy (DOE) and the National Aeronautical and Space
Administration (NASA) today. It describes new funding for six research
projects on the effects of low dose radiation exposure, one of which will
be conducted at the DOE's Brookhaven National Laboratory by biologist
Betsy Sutherland. Sutherland is studying induction and repair in cells
that were exposed to ionizing radiation at doses likely to be experienced
by workers in clean up environments, or by astronauts on the International
Space Station or on a Mars Mission (a few rem). The average American, by
comparison, receives a radiation dose of approximately 360 millirem per
year from artificial sources such as medical/dental x-rays and natural
sources such as radon gas, cosmic radiation, natural radioactivity in
Earth's crust, and naturally-radioactive potassium forty. Sutherland is
specifically studying "clusters" of DNA damage, where radiation causes
damages to the genetic code close together on two opposing strands of DNA.
Such double-strand insults are more difficult for the body's natural
repair mechanisms to repair successfully and are therefore more likely to
lead to long-term problems such as cancer than isolated lesions, which are
more likely to be successfully repaired.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Department of Energy (DOE) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) have jointly funded six basic research projects intended to expand our understanding of the health effects of low doses of ionizing radiation. The six three-year projects will be funded for a total of $6.69 million.
The research teams will apply similar experimental techniques and research designs to study problems that are relevant to both the DOE Low Dose Radiation Research Program and the NASA Space Radiation Health Program. The goal of DOE’s program is to help determine human health risks from exposures to low levels of radiation encountered in work and cleanup environments. Similarly, the goal of NASA’s program is to pinpoint health risks from radiation exposure to astronauts working in the space environment. DOE’s research focuses on very low doses of x-rays and gamma rays, whereas NASA studies low levels of particulate ionizing radiation (alpha particles, protons and high energy heavy ions) that comprise the solar wind and cosmic rays. In both cases, this information is needed to determine adequate and appropriate protective measures for personnel.
The projects will be funded by the DOE Office of Science’s Office of Biological and Environmental Research and by NASA’s Space Radiation Health Program, Office of Biological and Physical Research.
A list of the joint DOE/NASA investigators, their institutions, research projects and level of funding follows. Additional information on the individual projects is available from the DOE/NASA press offices or on the World Wide Web at: http://lowdose.tricity.wsu.edu , and http://lowdose.tricity.wsu.edu/latest_news.htm
Brookhaven National Laboratory, Upton, N.Y.
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, Calif.
Loma Linda University, Loma Linda, Calif.
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Richland, Wash.
Texas Engineering Experiment Station
University of Texas, Medical Branch, Galveston, Texas