Moulder, J. E. Report on an Interagency Workshop on the Radiobiology of Nuclear Terrorism. Molecular and Cellular Biology of Moderate Dose (1–10 Sv) Radiation and Potential Mechanisms of Radiation Protection (Bethesda, Maryland, December 17–18, 2001) Radiat. Res. 158, 118–124 (2002).
The events of September 11, 2001 have focused attention on the possibility of nuclear terrorism, and 1–10 Sv is arguably the dose range of biological interest, since doses in this range both pose a risk of acute effects and are potentially survivable. Because of this interest, a coalition of U.S. government agencies (NCI, DOD, DOE) and the Radiation Research Society convened a workshop in December 2001 “to focus on molecular, cellular and tissue changes that occur [at doses of 1–10 Sv] and potential mechanisms of radioprotection”. A draft report of this workshop was posted on the NCI website in February 2002. According to the draft, the workshop was also intended to “determine the research opportunities and resources required [and] develop a research-action plan for further discussion and implementation.” Injuries after exposure to ionizing radiation are important to patients with cancer and to populations potentially subject to accidental or intentional exposure. In these populations, partial- or whole-body exposures in the range of 1–10 Sv are possible. The consequences of exposure of limited tissue volumes to doses above 10 Sv have been researched because of their applicability to cancer therapy, while exposure to doses below 1 Sv has been researched because of nuclear fallout and space exploration issues. Except for research aimed at protection of members of the armed forces, the intervening dose range has received relatively little attention. The workshop participants concluded that although we currently have only a limited ability to deal with the consequences of radiation exposures in this range, focused research would have the potential of rapidly expanding such capabilities.