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SC 1-21:  Health Effects of Low Doses of Radiation: Integrating Radiation Biology and Epidemiology

Committee members

SC 1-21 will prepare a commentary on critical research needs for evaluation of low-dose radiation biological and health effects. The focus of the commentary will be on the integration of results of basic science studies, including biomarkers of cancer and other diseases, with epidemiological studies on health effects of low-dose radiation exposures.

In September and October 2012, the Co-Chairs, Staff Consultant, and NCRP President held planning teleconferences with webinar support to map out the next steps. The first Committee meeting was held on November 12, 2012. The Committee discussed perspectives on integrating basic biology and epidemiology and developed an initial outline for the report. Committee members volunteered for writing assignments best suited to their expertise.

The Committee met August 12–13, 2013 in Bethesda, Maryland to review the material collected to date. A revised outline and general timeline for the commentary was developed. The working title is “Health Effects of Low Doses of Radiation: Integrating Basic Science and Epidemiology,” and the overall working outline is:

  • Introduction
  • Description of Basic Radiobiology and Recent Advances
  • Description of Existing Epidemiologic Studies
  • General Approaches to Risk Assessment
  • Integration of Biology and Epidemiology
  • Closing the Gaps towards an Integrated Approach

A compiled first draft was distributed to the Committee in January 2014, for review at the January 28–29, 2014 meeting in Bethesda. At the meeting, the outline was further refined and a more detailed version is:

  • Preface
  • Executive Summary
  • Introduction
    • Definition of Low Dose and Low-Dose Rate
    • Use of Radiobiology Data to Reduce Uncertainty in Risk Estimates
  • Description of Basic Radiobiology and Recent Advances
    • Cell Killing and Signaling at Low Doses
    • Delayed Genomic Instability and its Consequences
  • General Approaches to Risk Assessment
    • Risk Assessment Process and Associated Uncertainties
    • Modeling Uncertainties: Dosimetric, Epidemiologic, Biologic
    • Uncertainties Related to Transfer of Radiation Risk Between Populations and Interactions with Carcinogens
    • Translation: In Vitro to In Vivo; Animal to Human
  •  Existing Studies Integrating Biology and Epidemiology
    •  Epidemiologic Studies Focused on Cancer Outcomes
      • Atomic-Bomb Survivors
      • The Women’s Environmental Cancer and Radiation Epidemiology (WECARE) Study
      • Astronauts
      • Retinoblastoma
      • Summary
    •  Epidemiologic Studies Focused on Noncancer
      • Circulatory Disease
      • Japanese Atomic-Bomb Survivors
      • Occupationally Exposed Groups
    • Cataracts
    • Other Nonmalignant Endpoints
    • Summary
  • Closing the Gaps Towards an Integrated Approach
    • Robustness of Surrogate and Intermediate Endpoints
    • Biologically-Based Modeling
    • Genetic Susceptibility and Interactions with Radiation
    • Delayed Genomic Instability and Adaptive Response
    • Systems Biology as a Strategy
    • Interactions with Environmental and Lifestyle Factors
    • Interdisciplinary Training
  • Conclusion
  • Appendix A. Listing of Epidemiologic Studies (Cancer)
  • Appendix B. Listing of Epidemiologic Studies (Noncancer)

The target date for a draft commentary available for PAC 1 and expert review is the fourth quarter of 2014.

An updated draft will be distributed to the committee members in early October 2014, for discussion at the next meeting on October 14–15, 2014.

NCRP is grateful to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Department of Energy for financial support for this work.

The membership of SC 1-21 is:

S.A. Amundson , Co-Chair
J.L. Bernstein, Co-Chair
K.F. Eckerman
R.A. Guilmette
A. Kronenberg
M.P. Little
W.F. Morgan
J.A. Nickoloff
S.N. Powell
D.O. Stram
R.J. Preston, Consultant
M. Rosenstein, Staff Consultant


November 12-13, 2012 >

SC 1-20 Biological Effectiveness of Low Linear-Energy Transfer
Radiation as a Function of Energy >

SC 1-23 Guidance on Radiation Dose Limits for the Lens of the Eye >

SC 1-24 Radiation Exposures in Space and the Potential for Central Nervous System Effects >

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