Discussing progress in low-dose research projects

The NEA High-level Group on Low-Dose Research (HLG-LDR) supports radiological protection policy, regulation and implementation choices by improving the effectiveness and efficiency of research through global co-ordination of ongoing and future low-dose research projects. 

The Group held its seventh plenary meeting on 27-28 June 2023 at the NEA in Boulogne-Billancourt, France. Established in 2021, the HLG-LDR met in person for the first time, with 20 participants on site and 15 attending online. An invited delegation from India also joined the meeting.

Now two-thirds of the way through its first three-year mandate, the Group discussed progress made, namely the opening of the Global Register to all project investigators for planned and ongoing research projects in March 2023, and the ongoing development of a set of adverse outcome pathways relevant to radiation exposure and biological effects.

The meeting focused on the importance of developing effective and efficient global co-ordination of low-dose research in the broader context of the nuclear industry, including in countries that are increasing or introducing nuclear energy programmes, as well as in countries that are accelerating decommissioning of nuclear power plants. Meeting participants also discussed the upcoming INEX-6 exercise, which will address decision making on a number of long-term post-accident issues. Improving knowledge, understanding and communication in the low-dose area have important implications for all these activities. In this context, the HLG-LDR focused on accelerating the process of raising awareness of the tools among the radiological protection community, and the importance of co-ordination in the field of low-dose research.

During one of the topical sessions on past radiobiology research, the HLG-LDR heard from invited speakers about the experience of archiving animal tissues and materials in Japan and the United States. On this basis, the group agreed to create a consortium of people to address the many issues related to animal archives and low-dose data use worldwide, and to develop a community of practice with the various archive managers around the world. The Group also discussed mechanisms that would help to accelerate outreach to the radiological protection community in order to ensure co-ordination in the field of low dose research, and that could strengthen the development of education and training resources for the next generation of researchers and radiation risk assessors. Developing initiatives that bring together researchers and regulators to increase the impact of key research findings was also discussed.

The next plenary meeting of the HLG-LDR will take place at the NEA in Boulogne-Billancourt, France, and will be organised in co-operation with the IDEA initiative (the International Dose Effect Alliance Workshops chaired by Electric Power Research Institute – EPRI, United States). The meeting will include other regional, national and international low-dose research co-ordination initiatives (such as COHERE, PLANET, MELODI and other interested European research platforms). This event is scheduled to take place on 25-27 June 2024.

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