Who could have predicted the world we now find ourselves in. Just a few short months ago we were updating you on our progress and letting you know about the University re-opening dates after the Easter holiday period.

As you may know, the University campus and our labs had to close well before Easter and to date, remain closed. What this means is that the good progress we had been making with the processing and analysis of donated blood samples for the whole genome sequence and cytogenetic analysis work has been and remains on-hold. 

The signs for a measured and staged return to campus however are brighter with senior management at the University designing and implementing covid-secure working practices and procedures. At the forefront of this is getting lab-based research moving again. We are very much part of this and are busy putting plans in place for a safe return to work for all our researchers and students that will give us the best chance of building back up to our previous levels of capacity. Previously we had been confident that we were on course to complete analysis on key parts of this study by the end of this year. We will be able to review this once we are back and working within the new system however, be rest assured that we will endeavour to work as hard as possible to minimise any further delays.   

Indeed, work has continued throughout on many elements of our projects that do not involve the lab by the wonders of technology and remote working. We have been progressing our systematic review of the published literature examining the question of ‘radiation effects in non-exposed children’, data collection is complete for the ‘Exposure Worry’ study and analysis of the results of the surveys and transcripts of the interviews is underway. Associated with this work, I am pleased to let you know that a narrative review written by doctoral researcher George Collett titled ‘The psychological consequences of (perceived) ionizing radiation exposure: a review on its role in radiation-induced cognitive dysfunction’ has just been accepted after peer-review for publication in the International Journal of Radiation Biology (Collett etal 2020). A summary and link to this manuscript will be available on www.chrc4veterans.uk once published. Similarly, data collection from two rounds of in-depth interviews is also complete for the ‘Wellbeing’ study and is currently being written in a creative non-fiction style to represent the findings in a way that is both novel and accessible to all. I would like to add that all of our doctoral students have continued to work remotely on their respective projects through what has been quite challenging times, for which I commend them. 

Our series of articles encompassing ‘radiation and health’ continues with Part 2 of ‘Ionising Radiation and Tissue Effects’. In Part 1 (published in Exposure April 2020) we discussed ‘tissue effects’, i.e. how ionising radiation can damage cells, tissues and organs with an emphasis on early tissue effects such as radiation sickness and sterility. In Part 2 we discuss examples of late tissue effects, i.e. effects which can take place several years after exposure such as cardiovascular disease and cataracts.

We also want to highlight our ‘Basic Facts’ which we have renamed ‘Basic Information’ as we feel the series covers emerging research and understanding in addition to established facts. In the last edition of Exposure we introduced you to this educational resource. Since then we have added new topics ‘radiation and health’, ‘radiation and tissue’ and ‘radiation and cancer’ all of which complement our articles published in Exposure by providing more content and further reading opportunities.   

We are also updating our Knowledge Hub with lay summaries of selected peer-reviewed publications. Why and how the research was undertaken and what the principle findings of the research were, are described. Our aim is to make science that has a relevance and interest for members of the nuclear test community accessible. In this way, you will have the opportunity to see the breadth of research undertaken internationally, build your understanding based on published evidence and, gain insight into how consensus views are drawn from bodies of work. 

I would like to finish by thanking everyone who has volunteered and contributed to all of our projects. CHRC staff remain working and are contactable via email at chrc@brunel.ac.uk. During this period there may be a delay in replying. But please get in touch if you have any queries and please all keep well.

Dr Rhona Anderson, Director, CHRC