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Fission and radiation protection

European Master of Science Course in Radiation Biology

The overall aim of the MSCRB is to maintain and expand expertise and competence within the European Union and other European countries in the radiobiological basis of radiation protection. The action will support the education and training of young scientists who plan to undertake cellular and molecular biology research on the effects of low and protracted doses of radiation. The project will disseminate the latest results of national and Community research programmes to those who enter the field, and produce experts with a sufficient and appropriate breadth of knowledge in all areas of classical and molecular radiation biology.

Supporting radiobiology education

The objective of the MSCRB support action is to produce experts with comprehensive knowledge in all areas of radiation biology including molecular radiation genetics. Rules and regulations in radiation protection are based on radiobiological research. National and international committees, boards and administrations all have to interpret the existing rules in the light of progress in radiobiological research and to adapt them to specific needs and situations. This task requires scientists who have a broad understanding of the entire field of radiation biology.

In order to meet these requirements, the European Commission encouraged and supported the development by the project partners of a postgraduate course in radiation biology with clearly identifiable European dimensions. Since its inception in 1993, the course has provided a core of almost 80 comprehensively educated radiobiologists who, in future, will serve their countries and the European Union as scientific advisors, lecturers on special radiation protection courses, and as research programme leaders. So high has been the demand for these graduates in radiation biology that the great majority of them have found excellent positions in radiation research or related fields in medicine on completion of the course. More than 80% have stayed within the general field of radiation sciences.

(Courtesy: Gray Cancer Institute)
(Courtesy: Gray Cancer Institute)

Further integration and encouraging standards

The Master of Science (MSc) course has been developed to offer high-quality education and training to a small group of up to 12 postgraduate students for one year in all areas of traditional and molecular radiation biology, radiation epidemiology and radioecology. The course teachers and facilities include many of the most distinguished radiation scientists and radiobiological laboratories involved in formal teaching and practical research training. During the last few years, an ever-closer integration of the European Master of Science course into the Framework Programme of the European Commission’s research in radiation protection has been achieved and is being further developed in FP6.

The education and training exercise is spread over five European countries, encouraging contacts to be made between students, teachers and laboratories which often continue later and lead to research co-operation. Maintenance of teaching standards and teaching expertise in radiation biology in Europe is encouraged by the senior and expert scientists who teach and participate in the course.

A new generation of radiobiologists

The future development of radiation protection and radiation protection research in Europe is facing a major problem of a pan-European dimension: namely, a lack of comprehensively trained young radiobiologists who can carry on developing radiation protection science through the integration of results and concepts from classical radiobiological research and emerging molecular radiation genetics research.

Experience over the past few years has convinced project participants that this MSc course is capable of meeting the requirements for the various areas of radiation protection research and radiation medicine research now and in the future. Future developments will lead to an ever-greater integration of the education and training activities provided by the European Master of Science course into the leading research programmes in radiation research throughout Europe. In this way, direct dissemination will be achieved of the latest results in radiobiological research to relevant audiences, along with urgently required training of outstanding young scientists who intend to devote their scientific ambition to radiation research.

Maintaining safety, feeding research

Citizens in most European Union countries regard radiation protection as a high priority in environmental conservation to protect humans from cancer and other genetic diseases. In addition to being an area of basic and applied research, radiation biology plays a very important social role since it is the scientific basis of radiation protection. Existing radiation protection regulations need to be interpreted and developed further on the basis of progress in radiobiological research.

A co-operative action by the European Commission and five universities from Austria, Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands and United Kingdom has developed a European postgraduate course with a clearly identifiable European dimension. No individual institution in any EU Member State would be in a position to teach a similar course at a comparable scientific level. One result of such co-operation is that future experts in the biological basis of radiation   protection are living, working and learning together for a full year and are taught by the most eminent experts from different European countries. In addition to providing the highest possible scientific standards of training, this integrated teaching also fosters mutual understanding of various attitudes and approaches to radiation protection which may derive from different undergraduate training and different national attitudes. Moreover, it also encourages future collaboration of students with each other and/or with the eminent radiation scientists who teach the course. In addition to joining the most active research groups in radiation protection research and clinical radiation medicine research on graduation, the Masters of radiation biology from previous courses have been very active in teaching on a wide range of radiation protection courses thus effectively disseminating the knowledge they gathered during their studies.

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