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Radiation Biology and Cellular Toxicology

Humans and animals are constantly exposed to radiation and chemical toxicants. How do they damage cells? How do cells protect themselves and repair damage? What are the health consequences of exposure? You will learn what and how we know and what we do not know.

Warning signs, one for radiation and one for poison. A picture of a cell between the two signs.
Picture by Andrzej Wojcik

The course is an introduction to radiation biology and toxicology, with focus on cellular and molecular effects and health protection. It is based on lectures, laboratory work and tasks. You will gain theoretical as well as practical knowledge and learn how to carry out and interpret experiments with DNA damaging agents.

  • Course structure

    The course is both theoretical and practical. The topics will include:

    • Radiation physics and radiation chemistry, microdosimetry, dose concepts, medical use of radiation
    • Toxic substances, absorption, level of exposure, use of cytotoxic drugs (cytostatics) and other forms of cancer treatment within the clinic
    • Genome organization and function, endogenously and exogenously formed free radicals, DNA damage, DNA adducts, mutations, epigenetic effects, carcinogenesis and cell transformation, repair of DNA damage, mechanisms of cell death, Adverse Outcome Pathway concept (AOP)
    • Methods for measuring cytotoxicity, genotoxicity and mutations.
    • The importance of radiation quality for the biological effect.
    • Biological dosimetry, introduction to epidemiology, radiation accidents and their effects on health, risk perception. Protection issues against radiation and chemical substances, comparative risk assessment.


    Embedded in the course is a two-week European course also for PhD students and early career researchers financed by the project RadoNorm ( titled CELET: Cellular and genotoxic effects of high and low LET ionising radiation – introduction to radiation biology. You can read more about this part of the course under "More information" further down this page.

    Teaching format

    The course consists of lectures, laboratory exercises, group discussions, study visits, project work and seminars. Participation in laboratory exercises, group discussions, project work, seminars and group education associated with this is compulsory.

    Field exercises will include excursions to areas with naturally occurring ionizing radiation where measurements will be caried out and samples of radioactive minerals collected.

    Learning outcomes

    It is expected that the student after taking the course will be able to 1) explain the effects of ionizing radiation and toxic substances on cells and the consequences both at the cell and organism level, 2) describe the different levels of protection against the harmful effects of ionizing radiation and toxic substances, 3) describe the application of radiation and cytotoxic drugs in medicine and biology, 4) explain the principles of risk evaluation and protection for human and environment, and 5) conduct tests to measure levels of cytotoxicity, genotoxicity and mutations and interpret the test results.


    Assessment of knowledge takes place through written and/or oral examination.


    Andrzej Wojcik (MBW)


    Tel: +46 8 16 1217

    Lovisa Lundholm (MBW)


    Tel: +46 8 4140

  • More information

    CELET course

    Embedded in the course is a 2-week European course for PhD students and early career researchers financed by the project RadoNorm ( titled CELET: Cellular and genotoxic effects of high and low LET ionising radiation – introduction to radiation biology. The aim of CELET is to acquaint students with techniques of studying genotoxic effects of ionising radiation which are of relevance for radon and naturally occurring materials. The course contains both lectures and practical laboratory work. The lectures will focus on various aspects of biological effects of low and high LET ionising radiation as well as on techniques to detect them using cytogenetics and immunogenetics. The interaction of SU and foreign students during the course has been tested on several occasions during an earlier edition of the radiation biology course and has always been highly appreciated by the course participants.

  • Contact

    Student office
    Study counsellor (advanced level)