IRSN, Institut de radioprotection et de sûreté nucléaire

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Research units

Main LECO's progams

LECO is involved in the following main research programmes:




  • Research into the physiological effects of ionising radiation on birds living in the area affected by the Fukushima-Daiichi accident
Grey-capped greenfinch, one of the bird species studied at Fukushima © IRSN

The ANR FREEBIRD project is currently in progress (coord. C. Adam-Guillermin, 10/2011-03/2013). Collaboration with the universities of Arizona (K. Mc Graw, P. Deviche), Tsukuba (M. Watanabe) and Rykkyo (K. Ueda).

  • Study of tissue sensitivity to ionising radiation

Immunolabelling of DNA double-break strands by H2AX in cells exposed to gamma radiation© IRSN

ANR HEMI-BREAKS-T programme (coord. N. Foray, 12/2011-11/2013)

Characterising the induction of DNA double-strand breaks and their repair in various tissues in zebra fish. In collaboration with INSERM/Lyon (N. Foray),  CNRS/Grenoble (L. Charlet), CEA/Saclay (L. Sabatier)

Characterisation of the bystander effect and radio-adaptation. In collaboration with the universities of Hong Kong and Stockholm and CEA Marcoule.


  • Structural and functional impact of radioactive pollutants on the genome of various organisms and effects on the reproductive function 

Left: Intact DNA: Middle: Damaged DNA; Right: Zebra fish spermatozoon exhibiting vacuoles and a jagged membrane © IRSN 

In collaboration with ENTPE in Lyon, University of Bordeaux I, INERIS, EDF, University of Antwerp.

  • Comparative study of modes of action for a and g radiation

Gamma irradiation device (dose rates scanned: 0.1 mGy/d to 750 mGy/d) © IRSN 

STAR programme (IRSN leads this European network of excellence). Work package 5.2. In collaboration with NRPA (Norway)

  • Development of nematode biosensors
  • Assessment of biomonitoring tools. Application to uranium mining sites
DEVIL project (Development and validation of fish biomarkers for the implementation of environmental legislation, led by INERIS; coord. Wilfried Sanchez, INERIS; in collaboration with the universities of Rheims, Le Havre, Littoral Côte d'Opale).

As part of the initiative to assess the environmental risk related to the existence of former uranium mines (closed in 2001) in the Limousin region in central France, and the DEVIL post-environment round table programme, LECO is conducting research into the health effects of mining waste on roach. Roach were caged for a month in two ponds in the Limousin region with different uranium concentrations. Many parameters related to various physiological functions (immunity, reproduction, oxidative stress response, nervous system, DNA damage, stomach contents, bioaccumulation of metals in tissues) were monitored during the experiment. The results obtained will help to determine the state of health of these fish when exposed to pollution from multiple-metal mining waste containing uranium. In particular, the data will contribute to on-going research aimed at improving methods and tools for assessing the environmental risk associated with the presence or discharge of radioactive substances in or to various environmental compartments.
  • Chernobyl - litters and nematodes
  • Extrapolation of individual effects to the population
  • DEB


ZEMAD project (physiological performance in zebra fish and impact of uranium-induced disturbances on lifecycle). In collaboration with the VU University Amsterdam and the University of Aix-Marseille
  • NEEDS-Environment project

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