Radiation Biology and Biophysics

This course is part of the programme
Master’s study programme Environment (second cycle)

Objectives and competences

The primary goal of the course is to give to students theoretical and practical knowledge in radiation biology and biophysics, which will enable them more complex understanding the processes in live cells affected by ionizing radiation. They will complete and upgrade their knowledge, gained within the Radioactivity and Radiation Protection course. Basic knowledge, obtained within the course will facilitate the students to implement the radiation protection guidelines in handling with radioactive substances in research and medical institutions or in nuclear industry. They will be able to understand and critically evaluate benefits and damages of radionuclide use in medicine and other fields.


For better understanding of the study material basic knowledge of physics, chemistry and biology from previous classes is required.
Also the course of Radioactivity and Radiation Protection is of great support.


The course deals with the following chapters:

• Quantities, units and definitions of radioactivity ,
• Interaction of radiation with matter,
• Energy transfer processes,
• Radiation chemistry, theory and models of cell survival, usefulness of survival curves, modification of radiation response,
• Radiation biology of normal and neoplastic tissue,
• Late effects of radiation on normal tissue: deterministic and stochastic effects,
• Radiation carcinogenesis, stochastic effects: genetic effects of ionising radiation,
• LET and relative biological effectiveness,
• Metabolism of radionuclides and biological effects of radionuclides in human body,
Exposure to background radiation and other radioactive sources.

Intended learning outcomes

Based on the knowledge gained through the course, students will be able to handle with radioactive markers and radioactive sources with the required precaution. Considering radiotoxicity, they will know how to identify and classify several most dangerous and most often used radionuclides in medical diagnostics and therapy, and will understand and estimate radiation risk for patients and personnel. Bearing in mind the repairing mechanisms of radiation damage, they will be able to justify the type of the appropriate radiation and its exposure time, and estimate the probability of cell survival and repair for a delivered dose.


  • E. L. Alpen, 1990: Radiation Biophysics, Academic Press, San Diego. E-version
  • E. J. Hall & A. J. Giaccia, 2006: Radiobiology for the Radiologist, Sixth Edition, Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Philadelphia. E-version
  • J. E. Martin, 2006: Physics for Radiation and Protection – A Handbook, 2nd Edition, Wiley-VCH Verlag, Weinheim.
  • K. H. Lieser, 2001: Nuclear and Radiochemistry, Fundamentals and Applications, 2nd Edition, Wiley-VCH Verlag, Weinheim.E-version


Written examination (80 %), oral examination (20 %)

Lecturer's references

Assoc. Professor of Radioactivity at the Jožef Stefan International Postgraduate School


  1. MULEC, Janez, VAUPOTIČ, Janja, WALOCHNIK, Julia. Prokaryotic and eukaryotic airborne microorganisms as tracers of microclimatic changes in the underground (Postojna Cave, Slovenia). Microbial Ecology, ISSN 0095-3628, 2012, vol. 64, no. 3, str. 654-667, [COBISS.SI-ID 34079277].
  2. VAUPOTIČ, Janja, BEZEK, Mateja, KÁVÁSI, Norbert, ISHIKAWA, Tatsuo, YONEHARA, Hidenori, TOKONAMI, Shinji. Radon and thoron doses in kindergartens and elementary schools. Radiation Protection Dosimetry, ISSN 0144-8420, Nuclear Technology Publishing, 2012, vol. 152, no. 1/3, str. 247-262, [COBISS.SI-ID 26053927].
  3. VAUPOTIČ, Janja, KOBAL, Ivan. Effective doses in schools based on nanosize radon progeny aerosols. Atmospheric Environment, ISSN 1352-2310. [Print ed.], 2006, vol. 40, str. 7494-7507. [COBISS.SI-ID 20273447].
  4. VAUPOTIČ, Janja, KOBAL, Ivan. Radon dose estimates assisted by continuous measurements. Journal of Radioanalytical and Nuclear Chemistry, ISSN 0236-5731, 2002, vol. 253, str. 267-274. [COBISS.SI-ID 16858407].
  5. BILBAN, Marjan, VAUPOTIČ, Janja. Chromosome aberrations study of pupils in high radon level elementary school. Health Physics, ISSN 0017-9078, 2001, vol. 80, str. 157-163. [COBISS.SI-ID 15879719].