The extended abstracts that follow provide a summary of the Proceedings of the 4th International Workshop: Microbeam Probes of Cellular Radiation Response, held in Killiney Bay, Dublin, on July 17–18, 1999, which was jointly organized by the Columbia University Radiological Research Accelerator Facility and the MIT Laboratory for Accelerator Beam Applications.

There is increasing interest in the use of microbeam systems, which can deliver beams of different radiations with a spatial resolution of a few micrometers or less, for radiobiological research. Single-particle microbeams can be used to address such questions as the relative sensitivities of different parts of the cell (e.g. nucleus compared to cytoplasm), and the effects of irradiation of neighboring (bystander) cells. For particle (e.g. α-particle) beams, irradiation with exactly one (or more) particle per cell can be achieved, allowing questions of risks of very low doses of ionizing radiations, such as radon, to be addressed. Several microbeams are now in operation, and others are being developed. The workshop provided a forum to assess the current state of microbeam technology and current biological applications, and to discuss future directions, both technological and biological.

Roughly 75 scientists (about equal numbers of physicists and biologists) attended the workshop, the fourth in a biannual series (1). A list of attendees can be obtained from David Brenner (djb3@columbia.edu). A fifth meeting is planned for the year 2001.

Support for this workshop from the U.S. National Center for Research Resources (grant P41 RR11623-03), the U.S. National Cancer Institute, and the U.S. Department of Energy, is gratefully acknowledged.


1.  B.D. Michael, M. Folkard and K.M. Prise, Meeting report: Microbeam probes of cellular radiation response, 4th L.H. Gray Workshop, 8–10 July 1993. Int.J. Radiat. Biol. 65, 503–508 (1994).

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