Dr. Soji Sebastian, a research scientist in the Radiobiology and Health Branch. He received his PhD in Cell and Molecular Biology from Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, affiliated to the Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India. Dr. Sebastian was the holder of computational regulome -postdoctoral fellowship from 2009 to 2014, to study the epigenetic basis of alternate splicing and myogenic differentiation.
Research in Sebastian’s group is guided by the hypothesis that exposure to low doses of ionizing gamma radiation is beneficial. Using a combination of in vitro and in vivo stem cell model systems, his group is investigating the epigenetic basis of cellular differentiation potential and regeneration. Apart from low dose research, Sebastian also taking part in European Space Agency’s IBER program to investigate the cardiovascular health risks from Space Radiation. Dr. Sebastian is an adjunct professor in the department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine at the University of Ottawa.
At the Canadian Nuclear Laboratories, I investigate the epigenetic alteration(s) resulting from natural and human-made radiation particles with the aim of better understanding and detecting possible damage(s). My main project is to identify epigenetic biomarkers in the blood of Canadian residents induced by radon gas exposure. Radon is a known carcinogen that is mainly detected indoors and is estimated to cause ~16% of lung cancer deaths, approximately 3,000 deaths/year according to a Health Canada report in 2012. Without mitigation measures, this number could increase due to improved home insulation. The biomarkers we identify will help us examine and evaluate the pathogenic processes of radon poisoning, which can help guide the development of treatments. Moreover, these biomarkers will allow Canadians to identify if they are at risk of radon poisoning and take mitigating actions. This project is a multi-partner collaborative study with Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, Health Canada, the University of Alberta, and Georgetown University.
Randy has been with CNL since 2013, initially as part of the Reactor Chemistry and Corrosion branch, where he investigated the behavior of high-temperature reactor systems chemistry and coolant radiolysis. Research interests then lead him to the Radiobiology and Health Branch at CNL where he has been involved in the development and operation of CNL’s 229Th generator for production of the exceedingly rare therapeutic isotope 225Ac. Additionally, Randy has been closely engaged in research efforts toward the production of 225Ac from alternative technologies including 232Th spallation, and the preparation of 225Ac labelled antibodies and small molecules for preclinical Targeted Alpha Therapy (TAT) research. Randy has co-authored multiple journal articles, conference presentations, and research works in the TAT field.
My research expertise is in radiological and health physics. The research that I carry out at CNL primarily focuses on the use of Monte Carlo radiation transport simulations in support of projects in the Health and Security theme areas. I also lead experimental measurements for neutron spectrometry and dosimetry projects that utilize the neutron fields in the Health Physics Neutron Generator (HPNG) facility. My work in the Health area centres on the use of simulations and experimental measurements to (a) characterize both the dose delivered to biological media and the microdosimetric nature of this dose delivery to cellular targets and (b) design and characterize the performance of a wide variety of neutron detectors and dosimeters. My work in the Security area centres on the use of simulations to investigate the effectiveness of a variety of interrogation techniques to detect special nuclear material.
Jihang started her health science journey at Peking University, majoring in laboratory medicine and economics. Then she received her Master of Science degree from Queen’s University in pathology and molecular medicine in 2016. Having been studied and worked at both clinical and university-based labs, she continued her exploration in a start-up company in England, building next-generation sequencing techniques and involved in developing a series of library preparation products. Besides that, she was trained by the British Red Cross and served as a first aider at work. She joined CNL and moved back to Canada in the November of 2020 as a biologist, getting involved in the study of low-dose radiation effects on immunological challenges in infectious diseases, especially COVID-19. She is also working in collaboration with Health Canada and Carleton University in respect of the genomic signatures relevant to radiation-induced lung cancer, contributing to an adverse outcome pathway.
The effect of radiation on healthy individuals depends on the total dose and dose rate of irradiation exposure. High-dose radiation (such as conventional radiotherapy), given acutely at a high dose rate, is generally considered to be detrimental, causing apoptosis, DNA damage, and suppressing the immune and hematopoietic systems. Unlike conventional radiotherapy, several recent studies suggest that low-dose radiation is more effective in cancer treatment than conventional radiotherapy and correlates with the stimulation of the immune system. We investigate the effects of low-dose radiation on cancer development and explore its role in cancer treatment. Moreover, we use multiple approaches to identify radiation-induced biomarkers for biodosimetry or triage screening.
Jen is leading the animal care team in the Biological Research Facility, which supports a wide variety of animal based research: from understanding the health effects of radiation exposures, optimizing cancer therapies and pre-clinical radio-pharmaceutical therapy evaluations. The animal care team’s passion is obvious as they continue to be a long standing member with the Canadian Council on Animal Care maintaining a Good Animal Practice certificate and always ensuring the highest standards of animal care and welfare is their top priority. Jen provides technical leadership and training to scientists and technologists, while helping maintain a specific pathogen free facility. She supervises activities in the animal health, surveillance and environmental programs, while organizing, executing and overseeing the animal studies and laboratory work. Jen is the Chairperson on CNL’s Animal Care Committee, who are responsible for overseeing all aspects of the Animal Care and Ethics Program. She actively participates in many areas of the animal use protocols, procedures, and associated documents while ensuring compliance with regulatory requirements and guidelines.
My research background is in functional genomics using CRISPR gene editing technology as a tool to identify vulnerabilities in cancer cells towards a genotype-specific cancer treatment. At CNL, my research focusses on radiation-based treatment modalities for cancer including targeted alpha therapy (TAT) and combination therapy using low dose radiation and immune checkpoint inhibitors. Specifically, I am applying CRISPR technology in functional genomics screens to uncover novel targets for TAT development as well as identify genes involved in mediating radiation resistance in cancer. Further, I am also interested in understanding the biology of low dose radiation pertaining to radiological protection and its impact on human health.
Ram is an accomplished executive with more than 25 years of broad industry experience, a proven track-record in business development and a thorough understanding of the medical isotopes and radiopharmaceuticals landscape.
Prior to his arrival at CNL, Ram served as the Director and Head of Business Development at Jubilant Draxlmage, a global leader in radiopharmaceuticals, where he was responsible for expanding the company’s commercial business into new products and technologies in the nuclear medicine and radiopharmaceutical field. This experience included leading acquisition, investment and licensing initiatives, negotiating business contracts and pursuing strategic partnerships and collaborations. Among his many accomplishments, Ram helped advance key products in the company’s development pipeline to their commercial phase and was instrumental in the growth of its new product portfolio. Ram also shaped, negotiated and helped complete external business partnerships for novel radiopharmaceutical products.
Edouard works with a dedicated team in unravelling the mechanisms underlying the biochemical changes induced in cells and tissues exposed to low doses/low fluences of different radiation types. The goal is to contribute knowledge focussed at alleviating the uncertainty in predicting the health outcomes of occupational exposures, whether in the nuclear industry and health sector or during deep space exploration. Ongoing projects also examine how low dose radiation effects can be harnessed to enhance the effectiveness of cancer therapeutics and in regenerative medicine. He is particularly interested in studying the roles of oxidative metabolism and intercellular communication in radiation-induced adaptive and bystander responses. He participated in mentoring numerous students and postdoctoral fellows who are now physicians and academic research scientists engaged in training the next generation of radiation scientists.
Laura Bannister is a research scientist in the Radiobiology and Health Branch at CNL and head of the Pre-Clinical and Toxicological Research section. This section includes Veterinary and research staff that oversee operation of CNL’s Biological Research Facility. Work undertaken in this Facility addresses emerging issues of radiation risks related to radioactive exposure of nuclear workers or public environmental or medical exposures, as well as countermeasure development for nuclear accidents. The BRF is currently working toward implementation and accreditation of a Good Laboratory Practice (GLP) Program, which supports commercial animal projects such as pre-clinical toxicity testing, with a focus on the development and testing of pharmaceuticals for Radio-immunotherapy. Dr. Bannister’s current research projects include toxicology of chronic ingestion of natural uranium in drinking water, investigation of molecular signatures linked to lung cancer risk, improved decorporation strategies for system for removal of inhaled radioactive fuel particles.
Candice DidychukManager, Radiobiology and Health Branch
Candice Didychuk is the Manager of the Radiobiology & Health Branch at CNL, which encompasses the laboratories, facilities and the R&D teams in the areas of radiochemistry, medical isotope production & application, dosimetry & health risk, radiation biology and pre-clinical & toxicological research. Candice has been with CNL for >12 years, joining the Radiobiology and Health branch as an R&D scientist in January 2010. Her research focused on the pre-clinical evaluation of targeted radionuclide therapies, particularly new 225Ac drug conjugates for targeted alpha therapeutics of various types of cancer; and also the Biokinetic modelling and internal dosimetry of nuclear internal contamination hazards/radionuclides, such as nuclear fuels and actinides.
She served in the role of Section Head of Radiochemistry and Medical Applications at CNL for 4 years, managing several projects and commercial initiatives to drive and contribute support in the production of 225Ac and its application for targeted alpha therapy, and developing CNL’s preclinical R&D capabilities.
Her current goals are to advance expertise and capabilities in the defined research areas, while establishing new services, partnerships and collaborative research opportunities.
Samy has led CNL’s R&D in space exploration since joining in 2012. His current research interests are on understanding and quantifying the radiation-induced health consequences associated with space exploration. He also currently serves as external expert to the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) Task Group 115 on Risk and Dose Assessment for Radiological Protection of Astronauts by invitation of the Canadian Space Agency (CSA).
Holly’s background is in microbiology and immunology, with expertise on pathogenesis and metal metabolism. Her current research interests include examining the effects of low dose radiation on biological systems and carcinogenesis. Holly is currently the principal investigator on projects that examine biochemical and physiological changes in response to low dose beta (i.e. tritium) and gamma ray exposures in breast cancer and colon cancer mouse models. She also leads a project looking at the feasibility of establishing a tissue biobank for CNL-derived, radiological tissues. Lastly, she is part of the Radiation Adverse Outcome Pathway (AOP) Working Group, with members from Health Canada and CNSC, that aims to develop a framework for radiation-mediated AOPs.
Richard RichardsonInternal Dosimetry & Radiobiology
Dr. Richard Richardson is a principal research scientist in the Radiobiology and Health Branch of CNL. He is also an adjunct professor of the Medical Physics Unit at McGill University. Since starting at CNL in 1993, he has published extensively on internal dosimetry including tritium and developed a novel explanation of the ‘oxygen effect’, important in radiotherapy. Currently, Dr. Richardson is the principal investigator for three major research projects at CNL including assessing the radiation quality of thermal and fast neutrons, using the NRU and ZED-2 reactor. Radiation-induced cataracts are also being studied, especially the radiation oxygen effect employing a hypoxia chamber. He is collaborating with researchers at Health Canada, the Ottawa Health Research Institute and University of Calgary to identify radon biomarkers in human blood. He contributed in 2021 to two Open Access papers published on DNA damage by fast neutrons, and cancer incidence and its stages. Dr. Richardson has authored over 75 peer-reviewed articles.
Marilyne is a senior research scientist in the Environment & Waste Technologies Branch. She heads the Environmental Biology and Toxicology section. Marilyne supervises the Chalk River Laboratory (CRL) Aquatic Toxicity Laboratory and she is currently leading the implementation of Good Laboratory Practice for the conduct of pre-clinical health studies at CRL. Marilyne and her team are interested in understanding the effects of chemicals and ionizing radiation on living organisms. The team carries out field and laboratory studies, including multigenerational studies, in the context of single or multiple stressors. By analysing molecular, cellular, organ, organism, or reproductive changes, the team evaluates the risks associated with exposure. Throughout her career at CNL, Marilyne has supervised over 50 students and has taken part in a number of educational initiatives