In the framework of the CONCERT Joint Programme, the E&T program (led by A. Ottolenghi and V. Smyth) promotes a series of courses in the sciences underpinning radiation protection in general, and in particular specific research areas such as the hazards from low-dose radiation, medical applications of ionising radiation, radioecology, emergency and recovery management and dosimetry.

The University of Pavia (under the coordination of A. Ottolenghi) has been hosting for several years (since 2010, DoReMi’s E&T program), the International Course on:

Modelling radiation effects from initial physical events – Learning modelling approaches and techniques in radiation biophysics and radiobiology research, from basic mechanisms to applications.

Course topics and contents:

The general objective of the course (in its 8th edition in 2018, with the 2019 edition already approved for funding) is to provide the theoretical bases for designing radiobiological research and to integrate experimental and theoretical activity, including experimental design and models.

* The course will introduce students to mechanisms and modelling approaches relative to the physical, chemical and biological effects of radiation at sub-cellular, cellular, and organism level. Firstly, an introduction on atomic and nuclear structures, on the DNA structure and on the general features of the radiobiological damage will be provided. The interaction of radiation with matter (ions, electrons, photons and neutrons) will be described in detail, with the support of a laboratory session on detection techniques and in particular gamma spectroscopy. A parallel laboratory session is planned in the radiobiology laboratory, to support the coordination between experimental and theoretical research.

* After the description of the physical stage of radiation-matter interaction, the investigation of the early events of the radiobiological damage will be explained, covering also the chemical (radiation chemistry of water and DNA solutions) and biological effects (radiation damage to DNA in a cellular environment, chromosomal aberrations, etc…).

* In parallel, the problem of modelling the biological phenomena induced by irradiation will be introduced, focusing in particular on the different approaches and methods adopted, e.g. Monte Carlo vs deterministic, discrete vs continuous, macroscopic vs microscopic, predictive vs exploratory etc. The Monte Carlo techniques and the track structure simulation codes will be presented as an example of the possible models developed to theoretically investigate physico-biological processes. Modelling radiation transport on a macroscopic scale will be also introduced to build the bridge between cellular effects and applications as e.g. medical applications or radiation protection (also specifically for space radiation).

* Statistical methods of general interest for model testing and best fit methods will also be addressed.

An insight on modeling radiation induced biological processes at molecular, cellular and systemic levels.

* Modelling Radiation Biology:  focus as an example on models of DNA damage (and repair) with different approaches: Monte Carlo (PARTRAC) or phenomenological (based on differential equations). Damage evolution will be studied with mechanistic (such as radiation perturbed cell communication, adaptive response), and phenomenological (such as models for optimizing medical uses) approaches.

* Modelling Radiation Therapy: during this session an introduction to the basic modelling approach adopted in radiation therapy will be presented. In particular a detailed description of Tumour Control Probability (TCP) and Normal Tissue Control Probability (NTCP) models will be given, with also a general introduction on the approaches adopted to model secondary tumour formation. The modelling activity to include the different radiation qualities within the radiation therapy framework will be presented (e.g. RBE quantification for mixed fields).

* Modeling Radiation Risks: methods and models to establish cancer risks from human cohorts with epidemiology studies will be presented.

* Modeling Systemic Responses: an introduction on systems biology (and systems radiation biology) and their methods (e.g. top-down vs bottom-up approach) will be presented. Definitions of complexity, robustness, and modularity of the biological systems will be given and discussed. A multi-scale approach will be a characteristic feature of the modelling methods covered by the course.

Previous International Courses:

* The International course on Radiation Biology for Medical Physicists was held under the coordination of Prof.Ottolenghi at University of Pavia, 13th – 18th April, 2015.

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