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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.

An updated draft was distributed to the Committee members for discussion at a meeting on October 14–15, 2014. At this meeting the outline for the draft was thoroughly reviewed and revised to better focus the Commentary on potential approaches to this integration, with assignments made to produce the revisions. The current outline is given below:

Executive Summary
1. Introduction
  1.1 Definition of Low Dose and Low Dose Rate
  1.2 Use of Radiation Biology Data to Reduce Uncertainty in Risk Estimates
2. General Approaches to Risk Assessment
  2.1 Risk Assessment Process and Associated Uncertainties
  2.2 Modeling Uncertainties: Dosimetric, Epidemiologic, Biologic
  2.3 Uncertainties Related to Transfer of Radiation Risk between Populations and
     Interactions with Carcinogens
  2.4 Translation: In Vitro to In Vivo; Animal to Human
3. Studies Integrating Biology and Epidemiology
  3.1 Epidemiologic Studies Focused on Cancer Outcomes
    3.1.1 Chromosome-Aberration Studies Atomic-Bomb Survivors Other Studies
    3.1.2 The WECARE Study
    3.1.3 Retinoblastoma
  3.2 Epidemiologic Studies Focused on Noncancer Outcomes
4. Bioindicators from Radiation Biology Studies
     [Intro: Adverse Outcome Pathways for Cancer and Noncancer Diseases]
  4.1 DNA Damage and Repair
  4.2 Cellular Signaling at Low Doses
  4.3 Chromosome Alterations
  4.4 Mutations
  4.5 Delayed Genomic Instability
  4.6 Modulators of Response
    4.6.1 Adaptive Responses
    4.6.2 Bystander Effects
    4.6.3 Genetic Susceptibility and Interactions with Radiation
    4.6.4 Interactions with Environmental and Lifestyle Factors         
5. Recommendations: Closing the Gaps towards an Integrated Approach
  5.1 Targeted Research to Identify Adverse Outcome Pathways and Bioindicators of Response
  5.2 Robustness of Surrogate and Intermediate Endpoints
  5.3 Biologically-Based Modeling
    5.3.1 Systems Biology as a Strategy
  5.4 Interdisciplinary Training
  5.5 Registries of Medical Imaging Exposures Linked to Acquisition of Biological Materials
     and Outcomes
  5.6 Facilities with Low Dose and Low Dose Rate Capabilities
6. Conclusion
A December 8–9, 2014 meeting of the Chairs and Staff Consultant was held to complete the content of the draft for PAC 1/expert review. The PAC 1/expert review draft was distributed on January 17, 2015 with a due date for comments of February 6, 2015. The draft commentary was then revised and distributed for Council comment and Board approval on March 31, 2015 with a due date for comments of April 28, 2015. As of June 30, 2015, the draft commentary is undergoing revision in preparation for submission to the publication process.

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
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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