The creation and acquisition of new and effective medical countermeasures for radiation injuries among the civilian population will require basic research to expand the knowledge base, as well as translational research to begin the transformation of fundamental knowledge gained into product development. Fortunately, a significant research base already exists. The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) has had a longstanding interest in the health effects of ionizing radiation on military personnel, and has sought ways to protect its forces from radiation and radioactive material released by nuclear weapons; however, funding for these research efforts has declined since the end of the Cold War. Several civilian government agencies support longitudinal epidemiologic studies to assess long-term health risks to X-ray technicians exposed to low-dose radiation, civilians exposed to nuclear weapons test fallout, survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and subpopulations near Chernobyl, Ukraine. These studies will provide essential knowledge for the long-term followup of individuals who are exposed to radiation as the result of a terrorist incident. NIAID, the National Cancer Institute, and other agencies within HHS currently support research on the molecular and cellular aspects of low- and moderate-dose radiation exposure. Although this research has focused largely on therapeutic uses of ionizing radiation, the results and programs can be adapted to the development of countermeasures.
NIH established a research centers program called Centers for Medical Countermeasures Against Radiation that will serve as a network of specialized research institutions working collaboratively to meet the goals of the NIH Strategic Plan and Research Agenda for Medical Countermeasures Against Radiological and Nuclear Threats in basic and translational research. Examples of research areas to be addressed include
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Last Updated September 19, 2005