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Cancer and Cell Biology

Our cell and molecular biologists are striving to understand the mechanisms that keep our cells healthy, and how these can be disrupted; e.g. in cancer through the chromosomal aberrations that can arise as a consequence of exposure to radiation.

Case Study: Health Effects of Radiological and Chemical Agents

The British Government undertook a series of atmospheric nuclear weapons tests at various sites in Australia and the South Pacific between 1952 and 1958. Associated with these tests was an experimental programme in which radioactivity was dispersed into the environment. There has been an ongoing concern as to whether veterans of these programmes (~20,000 servicemen) could have received sufficient radiation exposure to cause genetic damage (changes to the DNA). This concern extends to whether they might also have passed on genetic alterations to their children, thereby potentially affecting their family health. The Brunel research team, funded by the Nuclear Community Charity Fund are analysing if there is any chromosomal evidence of historical exposure of veterans and if there are any genetic alterations in their children. The study’s outputs will provide important new information enabling an evaluation of the potential risks to health. The knowledge gained will also contribute to improving our understanding of possible impacts on the future health of radiation-exposed populations more broadly.

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<span class='contactname'>Dr Elisabete Silva</span>
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Senior Lecturer In Human Toxicology
<span class='contactname'>Dr Michael Joseph</span>
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Business Development Manager
Research Support and Development Office


“It has been a long-held belief amongst the British nuclear survivor community that much higher levels of poor health are prevalent within their offspring. The research may help this community to better understand their potential genetic heritage and facilitate more informed life choices.”
Tony Jeffery, Chairman, Nuclear Community Charity Fund