The Future of Radiological Protection


Advancing the Adverse Outcome Pathway (AOP) in Radiation Research: An International Horizon-Style Exercise

Author(s): Julie J. Burtt 1, Vinita Chauhan 2, Knut Erik Tollefsen 3, Danielle Beaton 4, Julie Leblanc 1, Jacqueline Garnier-Laplace 5, Dominique Laurier 6
( 1 Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission; 2 Health Canada; 3 Norwegian Institute for Water Research; 4 Canadian Nuclear Laboratories; 5 OECD Nuclear Energy Agency; 6 Health and Environmental Division, Institute for Radiological Protection and Nuclear Safety (IRSN), France)



Over the past few decades, the chemical and ecotoxicology fields have been using the Adverse Outcome Pathway (AOP) framework to advance research and regulation. This framework offers an effective means to organize biological data into key events in the progression to an adverse outcome of interest to regulatory decision-making. The AOP framework is gaining traction within the radiation risk assessment community as the framework provides a linkage between experimentally derived biological data at different levels of biological organization with disease progression. It is envisioned that the AOP framework can strengthen the weight of evidence, decrease the uncertainty in radiation risk assessment, and enhance the understanding of radiation-induced effects at low doses and low dose rates. However, to advance the AOP framework within the field of radiation, uptake from the research community, policy makers, regulators and other stakeholders (e.g., industry) will be required.

To explore the diversity of opinions and ideas on incorporating the AOP framework in research and regulation, an international horizon-style exercise is being undertaken by the Nuclear Energy Agency’s High-Level Group on Low Dose Research (HLG-LDR) Radiation/Chemical (Rad/Chem) AOP joint topical group.  This exercise will identify the most important open questions regarding the use of the AOP framework in radiation research and regulation. The vision of the topical group is to demonstrate AOPs as an essential tool to characterize the knowledge domain, define evidence gaps, and ultimately, inform research directions based on knowledge from both the chemical and the radiation research communities. The first phase of the horizon-style exercise, the candidate question solicitation, is now complete with input from around the globe. Currently, a dedicated steering committee is sorting the collected questions with the intent to identifying key areas where radiation AOPs can support and identify challenges to its implementation in regulatory decision-making.  Completion of this phase of the exercise will identify the most important questions for inclusion in an international survey. The survey will permit survey respondents to highlight priority questions specific to individual interests. The outcome of the international survey will guide future initiatives of the Rad/Chem AOP joint topical group, inform focused workshop topics, and ultimately facilitate the integration of the AOP framework into radiation risk assessment and radiation protection.

Keywords: Adverse Outcome Pathway (AOP); Radiation; Horizon-style exercise; Research; International survey



Tatsuhiko ImaokaQST-NIRS

Thanks for a great talk. I suppose that securing an objective perspective would be important in sorting and ranking the questions obtained in the survey and identifying priority area. What kind of approach will be taken for this difficult task to be unbiasedly carried out? Thanks in advance:)

Julie Burrt

Thank you very much for the question. We will be using the best/worst ranking methodology developed and used by other groups. The Steering Committee will be showed 4 questions at one time and have to chose the best and the worst (relative worst). A repetitive iteration allows us to see which questions come out on top from our diverse Steering Committee.