The research is focused on radiation detection and dosimetry and radiation biology and cancer epidemiology.

Radiation Detection and Dosimetry Laboratory (RDDL)

The radiation detection and dosimetry laboratory (RDDL) is engaged in the study of radiation effects on solid and/or biological systems. The goal is to use the knowledge gained from these studies to develop new types of radiation dosimetry systems and techniques for radiation oncology applications and for radiation protection and nuclear nonproliferation uses. The RDDL is currently engaged in:

  • The study of the phenomena of thermoluminescence (TL), both theoretically and experimentally.
  • The applications to thermoluminescence to radiation dosimetry (TLD).
  • Uranium spectroscopy using high purity germanium detectors (HpGe).

Radiation Biology and Cancer Epidemiology

The primary public health concern for low dose radiation exposures is an increased cancer risk. This elevated risk has both environmental and genetic components. The genetic components are more poorly understood than the environmental components, yet they likely interact with each other to modify the cancer risk in some subpopulations. Identifying subpopulations at increased risk for environmentally-induced cancer would allow for more targeted radiation protection practices. The following studies are exploring genetic cancer risk factors:

  • In collaboration with colleagues at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, the Medical University of South Carolina, the Comstock Center for Public Health Research, and the NCI Frederick Cancer Center, studies are underway in a population cohort that represents approximately 30% of the residents of Washington County, Maryland. These studies seek to identify subpopulations of individuals who may be at heightened genetic risk for radiation-induced cancer.
  • Studies are underway to determine whether measuring genotypic associations with precancerous lesions may afford unique opportunities to infer the risk of cancer. This approach may be particularly useful for rare cancers that would not accrue to any significant degree in most population-based cohorts.
  • In collaboration with NIH investigators and scientists in China, association studies of genetic factors contributing to nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) — a major endemic cancer in China with strong gene/environment interactions — are being conducted using both genome-wide and candidate-gene approaches. These studies hope to identify and quantify interactions between environmental and genetic causes of NPC and other cancers.