One of IRSN's tasks is to assess the risks associated with the use of ionizing radiation and to propose solutions, in controlled exposure situations (medical use) or non-controlled situations (accident), for managing the effects on humans. In particular, IRSN is involved in research programs, in partnership with hospitals, universities and other French and international research institutions, to understand the effects of using ionizing radiation in the field of medicine, including radiotherapy.
Radiotherapy facilities have become extremely complex in technical terms in the recent years, with the development of new techniques (combined treatments, new types of radiation, higher dose rates, etc.). In light of these advances, IRSN conducts research projects on the side effects to healthy tissue surrounding the areas treated, and on possible treatment for such effects.
In 2012, IRSN acquired the ALPHÉE accelerator, a radiotherapy linac widely used in the medical sector. It can be used to irradiate a wide range of biological samples, including cells, blood, and animal tissue (rodents and mini-pigs).