Interdisciplinary Biosciences

The Interdisciplinary Biosciences expert group (BIO) is divided into three research units that conduct specific research with regard to the biological effects of ionising radiation, bacterial adaptation under extreme conditions and the behaviour of radionuclides in the biosphere.

In the laboratories of radiobiology, microbiology and biosphere impact studies, human cells, mice, plants and microorganisms are irradiated with ionising radiation and subsequently examined with the most advanced molecular and cellular techniques to bridge knowledge gaps in the short and long term effects of dose and dose rate. A wide range of effects is investigated in humans from cancer induction to cardiovascular and cognitive effects, in plants from morbidity to transgenerational effects and in microorganisms from mortality to acquiring radiation resistance through genetic and epigenetic adaptations.


The Radiobiology research unit contributes to public health by providing the scientific basis for radiation protection, radiotherapy and nuclear medicine. The goal is to understand the biological effects of ionising radiation in humans and the identification of high performance biomarkers.

The unit is also involved in a wide range of medical applications and space research, e.g. how space can affect astronaut’s health.


The  Microbiology research unit studies the behaviour of bacteria in ‘extreme’ environments, i.e. environments where they are exposed to toxic (radioactive) metals or ionising radiation, such as heavily polluted soils, nuclear installations and waste disposal sites or outer space. 

The unit develops in the context of long-term space missions (to Mars, for example) biological solutions for the recycling of water and the production of oxygen and food from waste. 

Biosphere Impact Studies

The  research unit Biosphere Impact Studies examines the behaviour of radionuclides in the terrestrial and aquatic environment. The unit develops models to predict radionuclide migration and to assess the radiological impact on man and environment.

The unit also looks into the biological effects induced in plants by radiation, radionuclide uptake and mixed contaminant conditions. 


Head of Expert Group: Vanmarcke Hans