Secondary Logo

Journal Logo

Institutional members access full text with Ovid®


Boice, John D. Jr.*

doi: 10.1097/HP.0b013e3181f9797d
Thirty-Third Lauriston S. Taylor Lecture: Paper

Epidemiology is the study of the distribution and causes of disease in humans. Studies of human populations exposed to ionizing radiation have been conducted for nearly 100 y during the “Golden Age of Radiation Epidemiology.” Radiation epidemiology is now so sophisticated that human studies are the basis for radiation protection standards and for compensation schemes in response to claims of ill health from prior exposures. The studies of exposed human populations are very broad and include not only the Japanese atomic bomb survivors, but also patients given radiotherapy for cancer, patients treated with radiation for nonmalignant disease, patients given diagnostic radiation, persons with intakes of radionuclides, workers exposed to occupational radiation, and communities exposed to environmental sources of radiation. But there is more to be learned, and future knowledge may be advanced from new and continued occupational studies of the early radiation workers, atomic veterans, medically exposed patients, and populations living in areas of high natural background radiation. The interaction between radiation and underlying genetic susceptibilities is an important emerging area of research. It is indeed an honor to be included among the Lauriston S. Taylor Lecturers.

* International Epidemiology Institute, 1455 Research Boulevard, Suite 550, Rockville, MD 20850, and Department of Medicine, Vanderbilt Epidemiology Center, Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center, Vanderbilt School of Medicine, Nashville, TN.

For correspondence contact the author at the above address or email at

(Manuscript accepted 26 August 2010)

©2011Health Physics Society