Eurados (European Radiation Dosimetry Group) celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2006. Since it was set up, this network of research institutions has grown to now include 52 laboratories in 31 European countries (the European Union, Switzerland, Eastern and Central Europe). The environment in which Eurados is active has changed over the years, particularly with regard to two main aspects. Firstly, while the main reason for funding Eurados was the need to coordinate research, many problems in dosimetry research have since been solved. Thus, Eurados has gradually reoriented part of its activities away from supporting research to implementing research results in radiation protection dosimetry, with an emphasis on harmonisation, dissemination, and training. Secondly, European Commission funding for the network through its various Framework Programmes (FP) has changed from general support for Eurados to funding which only grants money to selected activities.
In light of this situation, a study was initiated and supported under the FP6 project Conrad (A Coordinated Network for Radiation Dosimetry). This network analysis, carried out by the University of St. Gallen (HSG), investigated the existing situation and possible future scenarios for a sustainable radiation dosimetry network, including a 'Network of Excellence' as defined by the European Commission as a new instrument since FP6. Based on this study, the Eurados General Assembly empowered the Eurados Council in 2007 to prepare the necessary official and strategic steps to develop a sustainable network in the area of ionising radiation dosimetry.
Founding of Eurados
At the end of the Sixties, neutron radiotherapy was given a second chance after the disappointing experience in the Forties. The International Commission on Radiation Units and Measurements (ICRU) initiated the drawing up of a neutron dosimetry report (ICRU Report 26, 1977) as well as an international neutron dosimetry intercomparison, INDI (ICRU Report 27, 1978). The European Commission subsequently supported the European Neutron Dosimetry Intercomparison Project, ENDIP, performed at GSF and TNO (J.J. Broerse, G. Burger and M. Coppola, 1978). One salient conclusion of both intercomparisons was the need for a more consistent set of basic data such as cross sections, stopping power, kerma and W-values.
With this objective in mind, a co-ordination committee was set up consisting of J.J. Broerse (Chairman), M. Coppola (Secretary), D.K. Bewley, G. Burger, H.G. Ebert, N. Parmentier and W. Pohlit. The committee first meeting on Collection and Evaluation of Neutron Dosimetry Data (Cendos) was held at the end of 1976 in Fontenay-aux-Roses. Subsequent meetings were often scheduled to coincide with symposia or workshops on Neutron Dosimetry, organised in Neuherberg and Rijswijk.
A growing interest in cooperating on research in the area of dosimetry provided the impetus to found the European Radiation Dosimetry group (Eurados). This was conceived during a meeting of scientists engaged in contracts with the European Commission, held in September 1981 in Homburg. It was decided that the Eurados activities would be focused on collecting, processing and disseminating information on research in dosimetry of all types of ionising radiation, and on the practical coordination of ongoing research projects and joint planning of future programmes.
Together with its analogous association in the area of radiobiology, the European Late Effects Project group (Eulep), Eûrados can be considered as one of the precursors of European networks facilitating interaction between institutions and laboratories concerned with the improvement and implementation of dosimetry in various application fields (environment, individual monitoring, radiobiology, medicine, radiation protection, radiation physics and dosimetry). The association has accumulated over twenty years' experience in successfully running a network with more than 30 institutional members. In 1996, Eurados was asked to lead the Concerted Action (4th Framework Programme, Euratom) jointly carried out with Eulep and UIR (Union internationale de Radioécologie) named ”Environmental and occupational dosimetry: An integrated approach to radiation protection covering radioecology, dosimetry and biological effects”. Funding for this came from the European Commission and via the voting members. The latter have supported the work primarily thanks to scientists' efforts in working on various tasks. Funding from the European Commission has varied over time. Support from the member institutes has regularly increased, confirming their commitment to a lasting network.
In 1999, a Task Group was set up to review the status of Eurados and make proposals to improve the future operation of the Group. These proposals entered into force while preparing the 5th Framework Programme (Euratom) project and were validated at the 13th General Assembly. In 2002, Eurados submitted a Expression of Interest in setting-up and managing a network on the development and implementation of radiation protection dosimetry with the general aim of improving research and expertise in radiation protection dosimetry in Europe, of promoting vital research by pooling the participants' resources, of implementing state-of-art dosimetry, and of spreading information both among experts and to the public. The Network of Excellence scheme proposed by the European Commission did not match the aims of Eurados and was not pursued. To find a solution that can guaranty the network durability, a structured analysis was first launched within the Conrad action of the 6th european framework program (FP6). This analysis is now finished and a work group is now in charge of its conclusions implementation (see the Eurados website)