Washington State University College of Pharmacy

United States Transuranium & Uranium Registries

National Radiobiology Archives

by Charles R. Watson

Notice: The National Radiobiology Archives have been transferred to Northwestern University, Chicago, IL. To learn more about Northwestern's Beagle Dog Tissue Archive visit: http://janus.northwestern.edu/dog_tissues/.

The NRA houses paraffin embedded tissue blocks, histopathology slides, and clinical notes for various animal life-span studies performed at National Laboratories and universities.


The U.S. National Radiobiology Archives (NRA) is an archival program that was started in 1989 to collect, organize, and catalog data, laboratory notebooks, and animal tissue specimens from government (i.e. DOE and its predecessor agencies) sponsored radiobiology life-span studies performed at various National Laboratories and universities since the 1940's. These archived records and specimens that are stored and maintained in a centralized facility and are available for additional future research or analyses.

The NRA is part of a greater international program that includes the European Radiobiology Archives (ERA) and the Japanese Radiobiology Archives (JRA)1. Dr. Chuck Watson (NRA Database Consultant) served as the U.S. representative on the ERA Advisory Board. The board is overseeing the development of an internet version of the ERA to be called ERA-PRO. This activity is funded by European Community and managed by the German Federal Office for Radiation Protection.


Radiobiological Studies

Rodent and Nonhuman Primate Studies

Results from some 30,000 mice from studies comparing various strains have been transferred from Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Brookhaven National Laboratory. In addition, records, data, and many microscope slides from life-span studies on some 4,000 rats that were used for plutonium inhalation studies at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and biokinetic and pathological data from experiments on more than 300 nonhuman primates have been added to the archive collection.

Life-Span Studies Using Beagle Dogs
The major thrust of the early studies was to determine the level, rate, and extent of the radiological and toxicological effects induced by ingested or inhaled radionuclides, including plutonium and other transuranics. Over several decades, a variety of life-span studies using beagle dogs were initiated at the Argonne National Laboratory, University of California at Davis, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Inhalation Toxicology Research Institute, and the University of Utah. The results and many microscope slides from these life-span studies, totaling some 6000 dogs, have been transferred to the NRA and are now available to researchers.

Mask assembly for the smoking beagles. From Stannard, J. N. Radioactivity and Health: A History. Springfield, VA: National Technical Information Service (1988).

The Atlas of Experimentally-Induced Neoplasia in the Beagle Dog

The Atlas of Experimentally-Induced Neoplasia in the Beagle Dog2 facilitates comparison of neoplastic lesions observed by pathologists from the five laboratories. Different types of bone tumors, radiation-induced myeloid leukemia, liver tumors, lung tumors, and thyroid tumors are described and a standardized SNODOG morphology code is given for each diagnosis. The atlas also includes over 120 detailed histopathologic photographs. The original histopatholgic slides from the beagle studies are housed in the NRA.

Neoplasia Atlas Cover Myeloid Leukemia Slide Idiopathic Follicular Atrophy Monocytic Leukemia Slide
Histopathologic images from the Atlas of Experimentally-Induced Neoplasia in the Beagle Dog (1997). (a) Myeloid Leukemia, (b) Idiopathic Follicular Atrophy, (c) Monocytic Leukemia.

Study Descriptions

Brief descriptions of NRA tissue and document collections can be accessed using the following links:

NRA Tissue Archives »
NRA Document Archives »

International Radiobiology Archives of Long-Term Animal Studies provides more detailed descriptions of NRA, ERA, and JRA studies as well as brief histories of the three archival programs.

International Radiobiology Archives of Long-Term Animal Studies »

NRA Transfers to the USTUR

The NRA program was transferred from Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), operating for the U.S. Department of Energy, to the USTUR operations at WSU in 1996. The initial transfer included a limited collection of paraffin-embedded tissue blocks, microscope slides, clinical notes, pathologist observations, and several pieces of computer equipment. These specimens have been cataloged and are housed with the USTUR archives. Although the original archive collection at the NRA included formalin and/or alcohol-fixed tissues and thousands of radiographic films, concerns over the storage of such hazardous materials, coupled with budgetary constraints, led to proper disposal of these items which therefore were not transferred to the Registries with the other materials.

Acquiring NRA Data for Research

Like its sister program, the National Human Radiobiology Tissue Repository, materials from the NRA are made freely available to scientists and other investigators. Persons interested in access to the material and information in the database are encouraged to contact those responsible for the respective domain (NRA, ERA, JRA). Addresses to which such requests can be made are provided below.

Typically requests are initiated by a telephone or personal conversation, which helps to refine the initial query and leads to a formal written response. The information can either be handled at the respective centers where the database is stored, or subsets of the database can be sent to users in a format appropriate to their computer hardware/software. However, it must be emphasized that the data remain the intellectual property of the scientists who carried out the studies and of the institutions which sponsored and funded them. Any use of the material in the archives for further evaluation and publication will require the written consent of these institutes/scientists. This consent must be secured by the person making the application for use.


1. Gerber, G. B.; Watson, C.R.; Sugahara, T.; Okuda, S. International Radiobiology Archives of Long- Term Animal Studies, Vol. 1, Descriptions of Participating Institutions and Studies. Report DOE/RL-96-72. U.S. Department of Energy, Richland, WA. July 1996.

2. Watson, C. R.; Dagle, G. E.; Benjamin, S. A.; Fritz, T. E.; Gillett, N. A.; Haley, P. J.; Hahn, F. F.; Muggenburg, B. A.; Pool, R. R.; Seed, T. M.; Taylor, G. N.;Tolle, D. V. Atlas of Experimentally-Induced Neoplasia in the Beagle Dog. Battelle Memorial Institute. 1997.

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How to contact the ERA:

Dr. Bernd Grosche

Head Section "Radiation Epidemiology"
Federal Office for Radiation Protection
Tel. (+49) 1888 333 2250
Fax. (+49) 1888 333 2205
E-mail: bgrosche@bfs.de

Prof. Dr. Georg Gerber

B-2400 Mol, de Heylanden 7, Belgium
Tel. (+32) 14 317903 (at home usually in the afternoon)
Tel. (+32) 14 335199 (at the SCK/CEN usually in the morning)
Fax. (+32) 14 314793
E-mail ggerber@sckcen.be

How to contact the JRA:

Dr. Shin Saigusa (Scientific Secretary, JRA)

Reseach Center for Radiation Safety
National Institute of Radiological Sciences
4-9-1 Anakawa, Inage-ku, Chiba-shi, 263-8555, Japan
Tel. (+81) 43 206 2111 ext. 6473
Fax. (+81) 43 206 4138
E-mail sci-secretary@jrba.info or saigusa@nirs.go.jp

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This page was last updated on February 27, 2009. usturwebmaster@tricity.wsu.edu

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