The D.F. Torgerson Discovery Award is awarded to:
Youssef Ismail, Dmitry Klokov, Soji Sebastian, and Yi Wang for examining the effects of low-dose radiation on the rate of DNA repair, on the quality of stem cells and their ability to respond to tissue damage, and on the cell cycle and aging process within the cell. The recipients are part of the largest low-level radiation effects research program in North America and have established CNL as a premier, global resource for radiobiological research. Their program understands the risks of exposure to low doses of radiation similar to those that might be received by nuclear workers, the general public living in regions of high natural background and radiologically-examined medical patients. The foci of studies undertaken were radiation-induced genetic, immunological and inflammatory response changes that may impact the probability of radiation induced cancer and non-cancer diseases. In each study case, the team has shown that the changes produced are controlled by recently discovered epigenetic mechanisms - that are produced by changes in the proteins that wrap around the DNA molecule and control gene expression, changes in the chemical structure of DNA codes that stop and start gene expression and changes in the activity and regulatory profiles of small ribonucleic acid molecules that are found throughout cells. The effects identified provided possible mechanisms to explain how we adopt to radiation exposures and the, often described, beneficial effects of exposure to low-dose radiation.