Loma Linda University

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Gregory Nelson, PhD
Professor, Basic Sciences
School of Medicine
Professor, Radiation Medicine
School of Medicine
My current research interests center on the effects of ionizing radiation on normal cells and tissues.  It is normal tissues which set limits on radiation doses used in cancer therapy and it is normal tissues which set risk limits for occupational radiation exposures.  My laboratory investigates functional consequences of radiation exposure with emphasis on charged particle radiations such as protons, used at LLU for cancer therapy and accelerated ions of other elements (obtained at the Brookhaven National laboratory) that simulate cosmic rays encountered by astronauts.  We look at the brain, the immune system and bone as tissues that are at risk from radiation exposure and measure functions such as electrical signal formation/propagation or the ability to generate immune memory.  My interests in astronaut health also extend to effects of weightlessness and have involved experiments flown on five space shuttle missions.  I am also interested in how cells communicate information with each other and use radiation from microbeams to target individual cells in the model organism C. elegans.  These intestinal cells are able to generate signals that are received by unirradiated cells that in turn develop genotoxic damage.  Genetic screening techniques provide a means of identifying components of the signaling pathway and controlling the irradiation permits analysis of cell cooperation in transmitting/receiving the “bystander” signals.