Introduction and Scope

Research activities in topics related to the biological effects arising from low dose and protracted exposures to ionizing radiation are of utmost importance from both the scientific and societal perspectives. Topics such as

  • dose response curve for cancer;
  • individual radiosensitivity;
  • non-cancer effects;
  • radiation quality;
  • differential tissue sensitivity and
  • risks associated to internal emitters, are amongst those which will deserve special attention during the coming years in order to obtain breakthroughs in low dose radiation management and research.

Major findings in these topics will pave the way to a more robust international system of radiological protection and will allow to more effectively address public health concern on topics such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, neurological and cognitive effects and the opacity of the lens of the eye, amongst others, arising from the exposure to ionizing radiation in the framework of medical exposures (e.g., in radiodiagnostic or the induction of secondary cancers following radiotherapy treatments) as well as in occupational and environmental exposures (e.g., radon in dwellings and other exposures from other natural radiation sources), and in the aftermath of radiological and nuclear accidents or malevolent acts.

Since 2009, some of the aforementioned topics have been included in the Calls for proposals of the 7th European Union (EU) R&D Framework Programme EURATOM. The MELODI (Multidisciplinary European Low Dose Initiative) platform, created in 2009 and currently gathering more than 30 institutions in EU countries specifically listed these topics in its Strategic Research Agenda. The EU funded Network of Excellence DoReMi (Low Dose Research towards Multidisciplinary Integration) has also addressed these topics in successive calls launched in recent years and has promoted education and training activities in related topical areas. More recently, the 7th Framework Programme funded OPERRA (Open Project for European Radiation Research Area) has launched a call at the end of 2013 and will launch a new Call for proposals of research projects at the end of 2014 to address these topics.

It is anticipated that during 2015 and consecutive years, the Horizon 2020 EURATOM Calls will address these and other radiological protection topics, aiming at the integration of radiation research in Europe. Considering the leading edge, multidisciplinary and cross-cutting nature of the aforementioned topics, the synergetic cooperation between biologists and radiobiologists, geneticists, physicists, chemists, medical doctors, epidemiologists, toxicologists and several other experts from different fields of Science, Technology and Engineering, seems mandatory and desirable. It is commonly accepted that future research projects must address multiple components such as (radio)biology, epidemiology, dosimetry and modelling, amongst others.