Bert Maidment, Ph.D.
Narayani Ramakrishnan, Ph.D.
Potential threats in the post 9/11 world include radiological “dirty bombs” and nuclear explosives. To respond, the U.S. Government, through the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), has established a research program called Medical Countermeasures against Radiological and Nuclear Threats. The program is developing diagnostics, preventatives, and treatments for radiation sickness following a radiological event. RRP is the predominant NCI presence in this program because of its active radiation oncology program and extensive clinical expertise in radiobiology. Several RRP senior members participated in the program’s design.
Under this initiative, RRP is collaborating with NIAID, the lead institute at NIH for the development of biodefense countermeasures. NIAID’s research portfolio includes many in-depth studies of the immune system, which is especially vulnerable to radiation.
Central to this effort is the establishment of a network of multidisciplinary extramural Centers for Medical Countermeasures against Radiation (CMCRs) charged with developing new technologies to counter the injuries from a radiological event and facilitate interactions with regulatory and public health organizations. This is the first federal-civilian research program dedicated to the development of medical countermeasures to be used by civilians in the event of exposure to ionizing radiation. Discoveries by NIAID/CMCR researchers may have application to reduction of normal tissue complications from radiotherapy, and discoveries by NCI/RRP researchers may prove useful for treating injuries resulting from radiation accidents or terrorist events. RRP is active in providing a link between these research efforts. Further development of medical countermeasures is conducted by the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) in the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response. RRP members provide subject matter expertise to this effort as well as to developmental programs of DoD.