Brookhaven Lecture

"401st Brookhaven Lecture: 'Hazards of the Deep: Killing the Dragons — Neurobiological Consequences of Space Radiation Exposures'"

Presented by Marcelo Vasquez, Medical Department

Wednesday, February 16, 2005, 4:00 pm — Berkner Hall Auditorium

Since astronauts hope to spend more time in space, they will receive more exposure to ionizing radiation, a stream of particles that, when passing through a body, has enough energy to damage the components of living cells and tissues. Ionizing radiation may cause changes in cells� ability to carry out repair, reproduction and cross-talk with other cells. This may lead to mutations, which, in turn, may result in tumors, cancer, genetic defects in offspring, or neurodegeneration. A $34-million facility � BNL�s NASA Space Radiation Laboratory (NSRL) � built in a cooperative effort by NASA and DOE, is one of the few places in the world that can simulate the harsh space radiation environment. At this facility, scientists from some several institutions in the U.S. and abroad will learn about the possible risks to human beings exposed to space radiation. Although the spacecraft itself somewhat reduces radiation exposure, it does not completely shield astronauts from galactic cosmic rays, which are highly energetic heavy ions, or from solar particles, which are primarily energetic protons. Within the NSRL target room, Lab researchers and other NASA-sponsored scientists irradiate a variety of biological specimens, tissues, and cells to study the effects that ion beams have on cells and animals. To learn more about this research, join Marcelo Vazquez, a scientist in the Medical Department, on Tuesday, February 15, at 4 p.m. in Berkner Hall where he will present the 401st Brookhaven Lecture, �Hazards of the Deep: Killing the Dragons � Neurobiological Consequences of Space Radiation Exposures.� Vazquez will be introduced by Medical Department Chair Helene Benveniste. In his talk, Vazquez will discuss his research projects and how scientists from NASA, national laboratories, and other institutions worldwide have expanded the understanding of the link between ionizing radiation and neurodegeneration.

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