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2nd semester 2015 scientific news


AwardThe Joseph Maisin Young Researcher award for an IRSN PhD student
Jérémy Lavigne, a second year PhD student at the IRSN Radiobiology and Radiopathology Research Laboratory (SRBE/L3R), received one of the two Joseph Maisin Young Researcher awards handed out during the 12th CIRFA (International conference on fundamental and applied radiobiology), which took place from November 8 to 12, 2015 in Obernai (France).
It rewards his presentation "Phenotypic changes in irradiated endothelial cells during the development of pulmonary radiation lesions", which was based on his thesis. It aims to explore the possible role of several functions or key actors (EndoMT, PAI-1, HIF-1α) in the initiation and progression of radiation-induced pulmonary fibrosis. This thesis complements the L3R research on the mechanisms of the development of complications after radiotherapy, specifically on the role of the irradiated endothelium in tissue response to ionizing radiation and the development of tissue fibrosis. The Joseph Maisin awards are given to the most deserving young researchers who have presented their work at the conference.
CIRFA is organized by the International Society of Radiobiology in the French Language (SIRLAF) and takes place every two years in order to bring together students, teachers, researchers and clinical experts in disciplines related to radiobiology. IRSN is an event partner and, specifically, a part of the Scientific Committee.

Find out more about Jérémy Lavigne's thesis
Find out more about L3R
Find out more about SIRLAF

Research units

New 5-year mandate for the MIST joint research lab


After eight years of successful collaboration, the IRSN, the CNRS (French National Centre for Scientific Research) and the University of Montpellier recently extended the five-year mandate of their joint micromechanics and structural integrity laboratory, known by the French acronym MIST. This laboratory brings together the research capabilities of the three institutions in the field of "behavior of materials and structures exposed to harmful conditions": those of the Nuclear Safety Division of the IRSN in Cadarache, and those of the LMGC (Mechanical and Civil Engineering Laboratory) in Montpellier for the CNRS and the University of Montpellier.


The new contract, for the 2015–2019 period, covers the same scientific scope, which was expanded in 2007 from its original focus on fuel to that of nuclear reactor operational life extension, an area dedicated to ageing of concrete and metals. The joint laboratory operates along three lines of research:

  • homogenization and scale mapping
  • cracking, failure and fragmentation
  • discrete media and fluid-grain interactions


In its eight-year history, the MIST has made significant advances which include the development of generic tools capable of simulating cracking in heterogeneous materials. Among other things, these tools have allowed to refine the laws that govern the mechanical behavior of nuclear fuel and that are applied directly in accident simulation software developed by the Institute, including the SCANAIR computer code. These advances have also focused on the fragmentation of nuclear fuel and its ejection outside the cladding during accidents, as well as on the local permeability of kinds of concrete representative of those used for nuclear reactor containment (the last barrier of containment of the fission products which may be released into the atmosphere in the event of an accident). This research has been the subject of 30 scientific publications over the past four years, as well as 12 PhD dissertations and theses.


Find out more about MIST

"Best Poster Award" granted to researchers from the Radiation Protection Division of the IRSN
A unanimous jury granted one of the two Best Poster Awards to a team of researchers from the Human Radiation Protection Division of the IRSN on the occasion of the latest edition of the EPR BioDose conference held from October 4 - 8, 2015 in Hanover, New Hampshire.
The poster, "A mouse model of cytogenetic analysis to evaluate radiation dose exposure and contamination level in vitro and in vivoLogo-IABERD.jpg" presents the results obtained during a study of the potential health effects of chronic exposure to low doses of tritium, which has been conducted in partnership with the CNL (Canadian Nuclear Laboratories).
A cytogenetic method was developed and validated in mouse. The poster describes significant results in terms of chronic exposure to tritium, including the occurrence of chromosome aberrations at relatively low tritium activities.
EPR BioDose is a biannual international conference on biological dosimetry, and electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) spectroscopy dosimetry and dating organized by the International Association of Biological and EPR Radiation Dosimetry (IABERD). The Human Radiation Protection Division of the IRSN is actively involved in this association, fulfilling the functions of Deputy Chair and Treasury.

Find out more about EPR Biodose
Find out more about the LDB
Find out more about the LEDI

AwardThe Daniel Blanc Prize for a former PhD student at IRSN
Alice Petitguillaume, who completed her thesis at IRSN's Internal Dose Assessment Laboratory (LEDI), was awarded the Daniel Blanc prize in the last few days of the Radiophysics and Dosimetry Associate Laboratories (LARD) held in Bordeaux on 9 and 10 November 2015.            
The prize was awarded for the thesis she defended in September 2014 on research into the planning and treatment of internal radiotherapy, specifically selective internal radiotherapy.
This prize, totaling 600 euros, rewards a remarkable, recently defended thesis relating to the topics of the association of laboratories, which, from IRSN, include the LEDI, the neutron metrology and dosimetry laboratory (LMDN) and the ionizing radiation dosimetry laboratory (LDRI).

Find out more about Alice Petitguillaume's thesis
Find out more about the LEDI
Find out more about the LARD association

Research studyNew results of the epidemiological study INWORKS
New research results of the epidemiological study INWORKS published today reinforce the evidence of the existence of a relationship between risk of death from cancers other than leukemia and exposure to ionizing radiation. These results complete the first results of INWORKS published in June 2015 regarding leukemia risk.

Read the IRSN information note about this
Read the article
Find out more about INWORKS study
Find out more about the involved IRSN laboratory

PublicationsThe 9th issue of Aktis, IRSN’s scientific newsletter, is available 


Aktis-9-EN.jpg The ninth English-language issue of Aktis, the quarterly newsletter on IRSN’s research, is available on a HTML and PDF package. Aktis is published only in a digital version and available in HTML or text format for e-mail, RSS and a pageflip PDF. 


In this issue, focus on locating molten fuel in Fukushima by using simulation. Aktis n° 9 also tackles the assessment of the risk from beryllium in ITER and the assessment of the dose delivered in stereotactic radiotherapy. As well, it deals with the results of INWORKS study on leukemia.


The subscription for the English and French versions is complimentary. To read this issue or subscribe, go to


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EventIRSN co-organizes the "Friction, fracture, failure / Microstructural effects" workshop
IRSN and LMGC (CNRS-UM) organize a workshop from 12th to 15th October 2015 in the Logo-LMGC-Mist.jpgframework of their "wall-less" common laboratory, the MIST (Laboratory of Micromechanics and Integrity of Structures). The workshop will take place at Montpellier's Mare Nostrum Aquarium.

It will gather 25 researcher's talks, four of which are key notes about multiscales approaches, cracking and multiphysical coupling. Two half-days will tackle numerical and experimental tools. A half-day is also planned for posters session.

Find out more about the schedule and registration
Find out more about MIST laboratory

IRSN honored at Nureth-16 as a team from the Nuclear Safety Division wins a Best Paper Award
A research team from IRSN’s Nuclear Safety Division (N. Chikhi, T. Garcin, F. Foubert, P. March and F. Fichot) received a Best Paper Award at the NURETH-16 meeting, which was held in Chicago on August 30-September 4, 2015. More than 750 papers divided into seven categories were in competition for the award. The IRSN paper won the award in the “severe accidents” category.

The paper, entitled “First results of large scale debris bed reflood in PEARL facility”, presents the experimental results obtained in the PEARL facility, used in the PROGRES program, and describes interpretation and modeling work performed to calculate the physical phenomena observed during the latest PROGRES experiments. The aim of the program is to study reactor core cooling conditions following an accident. The paper significantly contributes to the understanding of physical phenomena observed involving water and steam flows in a porous medium at high temperature, under conditions representative of a reactor core melt accident.

The first N Meeting took place 35 years ago, and meetings have been held every two years since, providing a forum for discussing progress in R&D in the field of nuclear reactor thermal hydraulics.

Read the award-winning paper
Find out more about the PROGRES program
Find out more about NURETH-16
Find out more about mechanical and Material Experiment Laboratory (LE2M)

Publications30 years of research on severe accidents in nuclear power reactor
IRSN releases a new scientific book in Science and Technology Series, Nuclear power reactor core melt accidents. Current state of knowledge. This book compiles the sum oLAG_EN.jpgf knowledge acquired on this subject. It summarizes the lessons learnt from severe accidents around the world, that have contributed to improve the prevention of such accidents and the reduction of their consequences. Those from the Fukushima accident are not included because of still evolving knowledge.

For over thirty years, IPSN and subsequently IRSN has played a major international role in the field of nuclear power reactor core melt accidents through the undertaking of important experimental programmes (the most significant being the PHEBUS FP programme), the development of validated simulation tools (the ASTEC code that is today the leading European tool for modelling severe accidents), and the coordination of the SARNET (Severe Accident Research Network) international network of excellence. These accidents are described as "severe accidents" because they can lead to radioactive releases outside the plant concerned, with serious consequences for the general public and for the environment. The knowledge accumulated by the Institute on these subjects enabled it to play an active role in informing public authorithies, the media and the public when this accident occurred, and continues to do so to this day.

This book is available, under PDF and for free, on the IRSN website, in "Science and Technology Series".

See the Sciences and Technology Series

Research programs

OECD-STEM international program: first phase review


The first phase of the international STEM program, which was started in June 2011 by IRSN, was completed in June after four years. The OECD/NEA-led experimental program involving 9 French and international partners has studied two fission products that occur in a nuclear reactor - iodine (in the containment vessel) and ruthenium (in the reactor coolant system). The aim is to generate additional knowledge on the potential release of radioactive substances into the environment in the event of a spent fuel meltdown accident.


The tests were carried out in the EPICUR_LEAR facility and using the START test bench at the IRSN CHROMIA chemistry and radiochemistry experimentation center, and recreated physical, chemical and thermo-hydraulic conditions that were representative of a core melt accident in a pressurized water reactor (PWR). The STEM program answered a number of questions raised by the results of the Phebus PF program between 1988 and 2010, particularly relating to physical and chemical phenomena whose occurrence was not previously known.


The experiments quantified the kinetics of gaseous iodine from painted surfaces that are representative of the reactor building, and highlighted that gaseous iodine is produced from the decomposition of iodine oxide aerosols (fine-particle aerosol form) under ionizing radiation.  The STEM program also highlighted the significance of the revolatilization of ruthenium oxide deposits in the reactor coolant system and the potential for release of gaseous ruthenium in the reactor building. This new experimental data has improved the models included in the ASTEC software for simulating severe accidents that the IRSN is developing in collaboration with Gesellschaft für Reaktorsicherheit mbH (GRS).  


A second phase of the program (STEM 2) is due to begin in January 2016 for four years, again led by the OECD/NEA. This should supplement the results, in particular with tests performed in conditions that are even more representative of real core melt accident conditions.


Find out more about the ASTEC software

Find out more about the PHEBUS FP program

Find out more about the STEM program

PublicationsThe 8th issue of Aktis, IRSN’s scientific newsletter, is available 


Aktis-8.jpg The eight English-language issue of Aktis, the quarterly newsletter on IRSN’s research, is available on a HTML and PDF package. Aktis is published only in a digital version and available in HTML or text format for e-mail, RSS and a pageflip PDF. 


In this issue, focus on progress in understanding the effects of external radiotherapy on healthy tissue; it also talks about the DEB theory for understanding the effects of chronic low doses on living organisms and about radioactive particle suspension, HEPA filters and fire.


The subscription for the English and French versions is complimentary. To read this issue or subscribe, go to


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AwardTwo SFRP awards for research in dosimetry in therapeutic nuclear medicine
A first-year doctoral student at IRSN received the award for best poster at the French Radiation Protection Society (SFRP) congress that was held from June 16 to 18 in Reims. Nadia Benabdallah began her doctoral thesis at IRSN in October 2014 on "The contribution of tissue and cellular dosimetry in the treatment of patients using alphatherapy1". It covers the study of the first alpha-emitting radiopharmaceutical that has received marketing authorization, radium-223 dichloride (or Xofigo®).

At the same congress, Alice Petitguillaume received the second-place Henri Jammet prize for young professionals in radiation protection for her thesis work at IRSN, defended in September 2014. Her award-winning presentation, "Personalized Monte Carlo dosimetry for planning and evaluation of internal radiotherapy treatments: application to liver cancer treatments using 90Y-microspheres", focuses on selective internal radiotherapy research. She has now been invited to the IRPA workshop dedicated to the medical field to be held in Geneva, Switzerland from November 30 to December 2, 2015.

The third-place Henri Jammet prize for young professionals in the field of radiation protection was awarded to an engineer from the IRSN Radiation Protection - Environment Research Unit, Pedro Caldeira-Ideias, for his work on developing a passive trap for atmospheric tritium monitoring.
The 10th SFRP conference was an opportunity to celebrate the association's 50th anniversary, giving all professionals involved in protection against ionizing and non-ionizing radiation in the research, medical, industrial and nuclear power fields, the chance to present their most recent work. In honor of this anniversary, the SFRP invited several people to present retrospectives on the events that marked the last 50 years in radiation protection.

1. Xofigo® alphatherapy uses an alpha-emitting radioactive isotope of radium, able to target specifically cancer cells thanks to its affinity for bones.

Find out more about the SFRP
Find out more about Nadia Benabdallah's doctoral thesis
Find out more about Alice Petitguillaume's doctoral thesis