From the effects of ionizing radiation to the utility of science diplomacy: Exploring relationships, applications, and impacts

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2013-12

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Abstract

Observational research studies on animal models and epidemiological studies on human populations in regions where radiological events have occurred, such as Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Chernobyl, and Fukushima have been invaluable to understanding the biological effects associated with ionizing radiation exposures. The decades of research at these locations have suggested that the effects of low-dose radiation exposures are both controversial and unclear. The mechanisms behind these effects are not well-documented and require further study. This dissertation investigates a potential epigenetic mechanism associated with the radioadaptive response. Methylation levels of three genes (Gapdh, Gpx-1, and Trp53) were compared to gene expression analyses from two previous studies to investigate the correlation between a previously observed radioadaptive response and this epigenetic pathway.
Texas Tech University (TTU) has an extensive history of involvement in international radiation research as well as engagement with the United States Government and international organizations. This experience led to a group of TTU scientists being utilized for their expertise in an international project aimed at characterizing, dismantling, and disposing of Iraq’s former nuclear facilities. This group was also tasked with building scientific capacity in Iraq and assessing the public health and environmental implications of the war-torn nuclear program. This dissertation will report the results of public health studies at locations in and near Iraq’s highest-risk nuclear facilities. The relationship between science and policy-making is often underutilized and underestimated. In this age of great scientific and technological advancement, it is extremely difficult for decision-makers to be experts in all fields. In order for policy-makers to be sufficiently informed, scientific expertise and novel technologies should be applied to both domestic and international policy objectives. Through scientific missions to thirteen countries, including four missions to Ukraine and ten missions to Iraq, this dissertation explores the value of science diplomacy in the nuclear and radiological fields. A fourteen month period at the International Atomic Energy Agency further developed an understanding of the delicate relationship between science and diplomacy in an international organization. This dissertation explains the importance of applying scientific minds to international policy objectives and examines lessons learned from these unique experiences.

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Keywords

Radiation, Chernobyl, Iraq, Science Diplomacy, International Diplomacy, LNT Model, IAEA, Ionizing Radiation, Apodemus, Ukraine, Methylation, Epigenetics, Micronucleus, Immune Response, Public Health, Capacity Building, In Utero

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