Laboratory for Radiobiology

The Laboratory for Radiobiology studies the effects of low dose ionising radiation on the development of organisms, with a focus on female germ cells, the pre- and early postimplantation stages, and the embryonic developing brain.

The cellular response mechanisms activated by ionising radiation are identified by transcriptomic approaches while cellular phenotypes are associated to individual radiosensitivity.

Our aim is to provide the information and develop the tools needed for the improved protection of individuals with a high risk of incurring radiation damage as a result of environmental, occupational, accidental, medical, or cosmic exposure to radiation.

Research into the biological effects of ionising radiation at low doses

Ionising radiation deposits energy into living cells in a random manner, modifying important biomolecules, like DNA, and damaging cell structures. The consequences of radiation exposure are assessed by making use of the results obtained from both radiobiological research and epidemiological studies of exposed human populations. These studies provide the scientific basis for risk assessment in radiation protection, medical imaging (radiology and nuclear medicine) and radiotherapy. Most human exposures occur at low doses and low dose rates.

Our research aims to evaluate the potential health effects of these exposures with a focus on the radiosensitivity of the developing organism and on the individual susceptibility to ionising radiation. Our main goal is to identify molecular markers (genes and proteins) that are modulated at low doses, and to reveal their relationship to the biological effects at the cellular level and, more importantly, to the health effects on the whole organism.

At the other end of the dose spectrum, SCK•CEN is involved in the Belgian hadrontherapy consortium, a novel technology involving more precise irradiation of tumours with the help of protons and carbon ions, which would mainly help paediatric patients but also adult patients with radiation resistant tumours.

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Head of Unit: Baatout Sarah