August 21, 2007

Radiation Summer School

By Anonymous

Students and scientists from around the world gathered at the U.S. Department of Energy Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL; Upton, NY) to participate in the 4th annual National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Space Rathation Summer School. The group worked in BNL's Medical Department and NASA Space Rathation Laboratory (NSRL), a unique facility that simulates the harsh radiation environment of outer space, to study the possible risks astronauts may face during future long-term space flights. As NASA plans a mission to Mars, an outpost on the Moon, and exploration of near-Earth asteroids, many potential health risks remain unknown. Space radiobiology, a relatively new field that blends the disciplines of physics and biology, addresses questions about these risks. "While there is a wealth of data describing the effects of conventional rathation like x-rays, the same is not true for the types of rathation present in space. It is essential to define the potential risks of exposure to space rathation and, if necessary, develop effective countermeasures to permit safe missions of longer durations than in the past," said Peter Guida, medical department liaison scientist for the program at BNL. Eleanor Blakely, the 2007 NASA Summer School director and a scientist from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (CA), added, "Our goal is to attract the highest quality students from diverse scientific backgrounds and help train them to be the next wave of space rathation researchers." The program has 3 scientific modules: physics, biology, and experimental methods.

Fifteen graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and working scientists and 4 auditing professionals participated in this year's program. The intensive, 3-week course offers a unique physical and intellectual environment not duplicated in U.S. universities, medical schools, or research institutes. Students participate in both classroom activities and scientific experiments, working side- by-side with space scientists from research organizations and universities. Experimental creativity and interdisciplinary approaches are emphasized. "This year's crop of students is the most internationally diverse yet, with 11 different countries represented," said Guida. "Even though the program is only in its 4th year, many of our graduates are already making contributions to the field."

Brookhaven National Laboratory

Copyright Society of Nuclear Medicine Aug 2007

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