The consortium of the RISK-IR project brings together expertise from 13 research groups of 10 institutions from 7 European countries.
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The research aims are (i) to improve understanding of the genome care-taking systems that protect against the deleterious effects of DNA damage, (ii) to gain insight in the mechanisms by which DNA damage causes genetic alterations and disease (cancer, multi-system clinical malfunctions) and (iii) to use this knowledge for individual health risk assessment for DNA damage-related diseases, and improve therapeutic treatments involving radiation and chemotherapeutic agents. The multi-disciplinary research program covers genetic studies with model organisms (yeast, C. elegans, mouse and human cells), biochemistry and high resolution microscopy, genome–wide analyses of the DNA damage response and toxicity, up to patient diagnostics.
The Department of Toxicogenetics has a longstanding interest and experience in radiation research that started already in the seventies of the last century. The initial focus of radiation research was on analysis of radiation induced mutations and chromosomal aberrations in the fruitfly Drosophila and mammalian cells, but in the nineties the radiation research rapidly changing into molecular oriented research and high resolution cytogenetics primarily using radiation exposed mammalian cells. Via a series of EU projects (FP 5, 6, 7) coordinated by LUMC, European universities were worldwide at the front to discover key genes that protect cells to the hazardous effects of ionizing radiation. As scientific coordinator of the Integrated EU project ‘Risc-Rad ‘ the department initiated and performed low dose research, with a focus on genetic effects and the transcription response (transcriptomics) upon low dose radiation exposure. Department consists of approximately 57 members, including 8 post-doctoral fellows, 15 PhD students, 20 technicians and 10 staff scientists, three of which participate in the project: Leon Mullenders and Harry Vrieling (WP4 leaders), Jan Boei (cytogenetics, lung epithelial 3D-cultures)
Main tasks in project: A main role of LUMC in the project is to be projectleader of WP4 ( Leon Mullenders together with Harry Vrieling) and to contribute as WP4 partner primarily on genome wide analysis of transcription and posttranslational modifications of proteins by low dose radiation in ES cells, systems biology, and differentiation of lung epithelial 3D cultures.
Leon Mullenders (WP4 leader) is head of the department of Toxicogenetics and worked for 30 years on repair of DNA damage induced by radiation and chemicals both in cultured cells and in living animals. He coordinated several EU projects on biological effects of radiation and participated in a number of other EU projects. Leon Mullenders is member of the Health Council of the
Harry Vrieling (WP4 projectleader) is group leader at the department of Toxicogenetics and has almost 30 years’ experience in the field of DNA damage responses in in vitro and ex vivo cultured mammalian cells and mouse models. He has made valuable contributions to the successful completion of several EU projects on the biological effects of DNA damaging agents and will be the new chair of the scientific committee of AICR (Association for International Cancer Research) in 2012.