SC 1-26: Approaches for Integrating Radiation Biology and Epidemiology for Enhancing Low Dose Risk Assessment

Members only

SC 1-26 holds first meeting at NCRP headquarters, November 29 – 30, 2017


NCRP Report No. 171, Uncertainties in the Estimation of Radiation Risks and Probability of Causation (2012) discussed the impact of the several uncertainties in the available epidemiology data and in the approaches used to extrapolate from these data to estimate adverse outcomes at low radiation doses and dose rates. NCRP Commentary No. 24, Health Effects of Low Doses of Radiation: Perspectives on Integrating Radiation Biology and Epidemiology (2015) reviewed the available data on low dose effects at the whole animal, cellular and molecular levels and how these might be integrated into a single approach with epidemiology data. The proposed approach built upon that used in the field of risk assessment for environmental chemicals, namely to develop adverse outcome pathways (AOPs) for radiation-induced cancer and noncancer effects and to identify the key events along such pathways. Key events are envisaged to be used as parameters in biologically-based dose-response (BBDR) models for estimating risks at low doses and dose rates. Simple and sophisticated BBDR models have been developed over a number of years but as knowledge of the etiology of adverse outcomes has been greatly enhanced in the past few years, more and more realistic and predictive models have and can be developed. In addition, there is a quite extensive resource available for the application of the AOP/key rvent approach as applied to the risks from exposure to environmental chemicals. At the same time, additional radiation epidemiology data are becoming available that will significantly enhance the predictive outcome of any integrated models. In particular, data from the so-called “Million Person Study” will come available shortly and over the next several years. These data will serve as a critical component of any BBDR modeling approach for estimating radiation risks at low doses and low dose rates.


The Committee will comprehensively review the types of data that constitute key events for specific radiation-induced adverse outcomes (cancer and noncancer) and how critical ones might be developed through a targeted research program. The most informative epidemiology data for an integrated approach will be identified and, if not available, how these too might be obtained. The available BBDR models will be reviewed for assessing their value to the current task and equally their limitations. In this context, new predictive models will be proposed together with the parameters that could be used for propagating such models. Research for defining adverse outcome pathways and for obtaining reliable key events (parameters) will be proposed. The Committee will therefore, extend the concepts and approaches discussed in NCRP Report No. 171 and Commentary No.24 to further reduce uncertainty in radiation risk assessments at low doses and low dose rates, thereby enhancing the bases for radiation protection standards.


To prepare a report that describes available or potential approaches for combining data from epidemiology and radiation biology studies into models for predicting low dose/low dose rate radiation risks.

Scheduled Activities

First meeting November 29-30, 2017





is currently a Special Government Employee (Expert) with the Radiation Protection Division of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). He was previously the Associate Director for Health for the National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory of EPA. He also served as Director of the Environmental Carcinogenesis Division at EPA and as senior science adviser at the Chemical Industry Institute of Toxicology. He has been employed at the Biology Division of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory and has served as Associate Director for the Oak Ridge–University of Tennessee Graduate School for Biomedical Sciences. Dr. Preston's research and current activities have focused on the mechanisms of radiation and chemical carcinogenesis and the approaches for incorporating these types of data into cancer risk assessments.

Dr. Preston currently serves on two NCRP committees and is a member of the National Academy of Sciences Nuclear and Radiation Studies Board and a member of an Office of Science and Technology Policy Committee on Low Dose Radiation Research. Dr. Preston was chair of Committee 1 of the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP), a member of the ICRP Main Commission, and the Representative and a member of the U.S. delegation to the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation. He served as Chair for the National Research Council's Committee to Assess the Scientific Information for the Radiation Exposure Screening and Education Program and on the Task Group on the Biological Effects of Space Radiation. He is an associate editor of Environmental and Molecular Mutagenesis and Chemico-Biological Interactions. Dr. Preston has had more than 200 peer-reviewed papers and chapters published. He received his BA and MA from Peterhouse, Cambridge University, England, in genetics and his PhD from Reading University, England, in radiation genetics.

r. julian preston , Chair

Werner Rühm

is Acting Director of the Institute of Radiation Protection and leads the Medical and Environmental Dosimetry Group at the Helmholtz Center Munich, Germany. In addition he is professor at the Medical Faculty of the University of Munich.

Dr. Rühm has been a member of Committee 1 (C1) of the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) since 2005. He served as C1 Secretary from 2012 to 2016, and has continued as C1 Chair since 2016. He was a member of ICRP Task Group (TG) 83 (Protection of Aircraft Crew Against Cosmic Radiation Exposure), and is currently chairing ICRP TG91 on Dose and Dose-Rate Effectiveness Factor. Since 2005 he has served as Editor-in-Chief of the Radiation and Environmental Biophysics journal. In 2014 he was elected Chair of the European Radiation Dosimetry Group, and in 2017 was appointed as a member of the German Radiation Protection Commission (SSK), and as Co-chair of the SSK Committee on Radiation Risk. He has published on various topics including quantification of neutron exposure of atomic-bomb survivors, cosmic-ray exposure of air crew, the role of neutrons in risk assessment of atomic-bomb survivors, risks from low-dose-rate exposures, behaviour of radionuclides in the environment, internal exposures from incorporated radionuclides, and radiation measurement techniques. Werner Rühm is serving as the Chair of the German Commission on Radiation Protection.

Werner Rühm , Vice Chair



Edouard I. Azzam is Professor in the Department of Radiology at Rutgers University - New Jersey Medical School. He received his doctoral degree in the field of radiation biology from the University of Ottawa (Canada) in 1995. From 1995 to 2000, he pursued post-doctoral studies at the Harvard School of Public Health under the mentorship of Professor John B. Little.

His research program has focused on elucidating the mechanisms underlying the biological effects of low doses/low fluences of ionizing radiations that differ in their biophysical characteristics. The goal is to elucidate the role of intercellular communication and oxidative metabolism in radiation-induced nontargeted effects and adaptive responses. The outcome of these investigations may be significant towards reducing the uncertainty associated with current models for predicting the long-term health risks of exposure to radiation. His studies have been funded by the National Institutes of Health, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and the U.S. Department of Energy; and they have resulted in the training of numerous students and post-doctoral fellows who remain engaged in unraveling the biochemical events underlying the responses of human cells to ionizing radiation.

edouard i. azzam



is currently Professor of Medicine at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, Tennessee. He was President of NCRP, Bethesda, Maryland from 2012 to 2018. Dr. Boice is an international authority on radiation effects and served on the Main Commission of the International Commission on Radiological Protection for 20 y and as a U.S. advisor to the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation for 25 y. During 27 y of service in the U.S. Public Health Service, Dr. Boice developed and became the first chief of the Radiation Epidemiology Branch at the National Cancer Institute.

Dr. Boice has established programs of research in all major areas of radiation epidemiology, with major projects dealing with populations exposed to medical, occupational, military and environmental radiation. These research efforts have aimed at clarifying cancer and other health risks associated with exposure to ionizing radiation, especially at low-dose levels. Dr. Boice's seminal discoveries and over 500 publications have been used to formulate public-health measures to reduce population exposure to radiation and prevent radiation-associated diseases.

He has delivered the Lauriston S. Taylor Lecture at the NCRP and the Fessinger-Springer Lecture at the University of Texas at El Paso. In 2008, Dr. Boice received the Harvard School of Public Health Alumni Award of Merit. He has also received the E.O. Lawrence Award from the Department of Energy — an honor bestowed on Richard Feynman and Murray Gell-Mann among others — and the Gorgas Medal from the Association of Military Surgeons of the United States. In 1999 he received the outstanding alumnus award from the University of Texas at El Paso (formerly Texas Western College). Dr. Boice directs the Million U.S. Radiation Workers and Veterans Study to examine the lifetime risk of cancer following relatively low-dose exposures received gradually over time.

john d. boice, jr.

Simon Bouffler

is currently the Head of Radiation Effects Department at the Public Health England (PHE) Centre for Radiation, Chemical and Environmental Hazards. He has held several appointments at PHE and its predecessor organisations, the Health Protection Agency and National Radiological Protection Board, since 1991. Previously he held a post-doctoral research position in the Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge. Dr. Bouffler's research interests focus on the biological mechanisms of radiogenic diseases utilising mouse models and human cellular systems.

Dr. Bouffler is the U.K. representative to the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation and has served on the U.K. delegation since 2006. He was recently elected to the Main Commission of the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) having served as Vice-Chair of ICRP's Committee 1 from 2013 to 2017. He has published over 100 peer reviewed papers.

Dr. Bouffler was educated at the University of Southampton, receiving a BSc and PhD in Biology.

Simon Bouffler

Mark P. Little

Littlejoined the National Cancer Institute, Radiation Epidemiology Branch (REB) in 2010 as a Senior Investigator. He studied mathematics at Trinity College, Cambridge and obtained his doctorate in mathematics at New College, Oxford. Over the last two decades he has been analyzing cancer and cardiovascular disease risks in the Japanese atomic-bomb survivors, and in other irradiated populations and offspring. Previously (2000 to 2010), he worked in Imperial College London, and before that (1992 to 2000) at U.K. National Radiological Protection Board (now part of Public Health England). He is a member of NCRP, and has served as consultant to the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation, to the International Atomic Energy Agency, to the International Committee on Radiological Protection (ICRP) (in particular as member of ICRP Task Group 91), to the U.K. Committee on the Medical Aspects of Radiation in the Environment, and to a recently formed NCRP Scientific Committee 1-26. In REB, Dr. Little is working on assessment of leukemia risk in persons exposed at low doses and dose rates, cancer risk in various cohorts of persons exposed as result of the Chernobyl accident, on risks of various health endpoints in the U.S. cohort of radiologic technologists, and on treatment-related second cancer risks in various populations. He has particular interest in dose measurement error models, with application to assessment of low-dose and low-dose-rate risk of childhood leukemia and circulatory disease.

Mark P. Little


was a Professor and Chief of the Epidemiology Division at New York University School of Medicine before going to the Radiation Effects Research Foundation (RERF) in Hiroshima-Nagasaki as Vice Chairman and Chief of Research. He is an author of ~100 radiation-related publications and is currently working with other RERF investigators on studies of radiation and various diseases.

He has served on numerous governmental and scholarly committees, including as a long-time member of the International Commission on Radiological Protection and NCRP, and has served on various committees or task groups for the United Nations Scientfic Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation, the World Health Organization, the National Academy of Sciences, the National Cancer Institute, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, among others. His interests include the effects of radiation on both cancer and noncancer disease incidence, and understanding the epidemiologic and biological modification of radiation effects by various environmental, genetic and age factors.

roy e. shore

Igor Shuryak

is an assistant professor in the Center for Radiological Research, Department of Radiation Oncology at Columbia University Medical Center. His research interests focus on mechanistic mathematical modeling of the effects of ionizing radiation on living organisms. They include modeling of radiation-induced carcinogenesis at both low and high doses (e.g., second cancers induced by radiotherapy for primary malignancies), cancer therapy (e.g., tumor control and normal tissue complications), nontargeted ("bystander") effects of radiation (e.g., for densely-ionizing radiation exposures such as those occurring on manned space missions), and mechanisms of resistance to ionizing radiation in human and nonhuman cells.

Dr. Shuryak's training and experience have been interdisciplinary, starting with biology (BA from Columbia University) and medicine (MD from State University of New York Downstate College of Medicine). He received a PhD degree with distinction from the Department of Environmental Health Sciences (Columbia University, Mailman School of Public Health) for work on combining both short- and long-term time scales in mechanistic modeling of radiation-induced carcinogenesis.

Igor Shuryak



is a professor in the Department of Environmental and Radiological Health Sciences at Colorado State University (CSU). His research, which takes advantage of murine models of radiation carcinogenesis and leukemogenesis, is focused on understanding how radiation exposure can lead to cancer and why some individuals may be more susceptible than others. At CSU, Dr. Weil teaches a graduate level course in cancer genetics and lectures in courses on cancer biology, environmental carcinogenesis, principles of radiation biology, and the pathobiology of laboratory animals.

Dr. Weil earned his PhD in Microbiology from the University of Texas at Austin and was trained in cancer genetics and radiation biology in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Biochemistry and the Department of Experimental Radiotherapy at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. Dr. Weil is a Radiation Research Society council member and has served on National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Defense, and National Aeronautics and Space Administration grant review panels.

michael m. weil



is a consultant, currently concentrating on the preparation of scientific reports produced by NCRP in all subject areas. From 1982 to 1995, he was Director, Office of Health Physics at the Center for Devices and Radiological Health, U.S. Food and Drug Administration. He also served in a number of scientific and management positions related to radiation protection during his 33 y career as a Commissioned Officer in the U.S. Public Health Service, from 1962 to 1995. He received a BS in Chemical Engineering (University of Maryland, 1961), an MS in Environmental Engineering (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, 1966) and a PhD in Nuclear Engineering (University of Maryland, 1971). His technical work has concentrated on radiation dosimetry, particularly with regard to x rays used for medical diagnosis, epidemiological studies of exposed populations, and public radiation emergencies.

He is a Distinguished Emeritus Member of NCRP (after serving as a Council member for 18 y), and an Emeritus member of Committee 3 (Protection in Medicine) of the International Commission on Radiological Protection [after serving on Committee 3 for 28 y (1985 to 2013)]. He was also a member of the International Commission on Radiation Units and Measurements report committee that produced Report 74, Patient Dosimetry for X Rays Used in Medical Imaging.

marvin rosenstein , Staff Consultant
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Last modified: November 30, 2017