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treatment of diseases evolved, nuclear medicine became a recognized medical specialty and radionuclide production developed into a flourishing industry. The Department's research in this very important field of medicine continues to produce new information and technologies that make possible more effective and safer ways to diagnose and treat a variety of diseases, including cancer and heart disease.
FY 1991 BIOLOGICAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL RESEARCH BUDGET REQUEST
The FY 1991 budget request for the BER program is $338.8 million. Of that
amount, $323.7 million is for Operating Expenses, $11.6 million is for Capital Equipment, and $3.5 million is for Construction. (Table 11).
The Health Effects research activity, with an FY 1991 Operating Expenses request of $73.1 million, will provide for continued research in epidemiology, radiation biology, and chemical toxicology. This research will provide the information needed to correlate the relationships between exposure to chronic, low levels of chemicals or radiation and the consequent biological response. In addition to increasing our scientific understanding of these relationships, results from this research will continue to provide input to occupational exposure standards and, ultimately, will lead to healthier and safer environments in the workplace.
The epidemiology research supported by the BER program is concerned with the health consequences of energy production and use as well as the consequences of working at or living near DOE facilities. Extensive data bases on the
Energy Supply R&D
Budget Authority (s in millions)
of Energy Development and Use
Department's contractor worker population have been compiled in connection
with studies of chronic exposures to ionizing radiation. In response to the need to organize and integrate data from these studies, as well as data on other DOE worker populations living near DOE facilities, and on other populations such as workers in the energy industry, the FY 1991 request includes a continued effort to develop the Comprehensive Epidemiologic Data Resource (CEDR). This resource will be available to all qualified
epidemiologic research investigators.
The CEDR, which is one element of the Secretary's four-point epidemiologic initiative, will be a national database containing validated data useful for epidemiologic research. A draft of the CEDR program plan has been completed; working groups have been formed to develop full implementation plans; an interim version of the CEDR, containing some data for dissemination, has been completed; and acceleration of activities to complete data collection on DOE workers has begun. While we expect to have intermediate versions of CEDR available for dissemination during the development process, full implementation is scheduled for the end of FY 1995. A major programmatic review of the Department's epidemiologic research activities was started in 1989 by the Secretarial Panel for the Evaluation of Epidemiologic Activities. The Interim Report of the Panel to the Secretary was received in November, 1989. The Panel made a number of recommendations, including several related to the release of data on DOE workers to researchers outside of the Department. The Department is in the process of addressing the Panel's recommendations.
The FY 1991 Health Effects request also provides for continuing the basic
scientific research needed to understand and predict the health risk
associated with exposure to indoor radon. This research includes determining the availability and transport of radon in the environment and its behavior indoors. It also includes measuring and characterizing human exposure to radon more accurately, better defining health risk estimates, and determining the role of radon exposure in combination with smoking in causing lung cancer. Estimates of the risk of incurring lung disease from exposure to radon are derived from experience with exposures in uranium mines. Further research, which will include animal exposure studies and extension of current studies from model indoor systems to real residences, could have implications for what are currently considered to be the exposure levels requiring corrective
The FY 1991 request for General Life Sciences research is $80.2 million. This
program will continue to emphasize molecular and cellular studies to examine how key biological processes operate, as well as studies of the structure of key macromolecules like DNA. Using this knowledge, researchers can learn more about how physical and chemical agents affect living processes. The research also identifies early indicators of biological damage, teaches us how cells repair themselves, and leads to new techniques for analyzing biological
Much of the damage to DNA that is caused by radiation and chemicals is
repaired by the body's own built-in defenses. This repair process has
important implications for accurately evaluating the risks and potential
health impacts of these agents. Advances in our understanding may even have considerable potential for therapy. Progress has been made during the last
year at LLNL, LANL, and ORNL where researchers were able to isolate specific
human genes involved in the repair of DNA damage caused by ultraviolet light
and certain types of chemicals.
A major FY 1991 focus in General Life Sciences research will be the DOE human genome effort which is developing new instrumentation and methodologies that will make research on the molecular structure of the human genome, which is the complete set of genetic instructions that make a human being, less costly and less labor intensive. The FY 1991 request of $45.9 million expands human
genome research aimed at developing improved technologies for sequencing DNA, constructing physical maps of each human chromosome, developing computational capabilities for analyzing and manipulating data, and facilitating technology transfer. During the last year, progress has been made at LANL, LLNL, LBL, and the University of Chicago, respectively, where scientists have developed:
a new physical mapping technique currently in use in mapping chromosome 16, an
automated technique being used to map chromosome 19, a common language that
would allow all physical maps of chromosomes to be described electronically,
and a new method of cutting human DNA into fragments that will greatly
facilitate chromosome mapping.
Also during the last year, DOE and the
National Institutes of Health (NIH) completed a five-year plan for the national human genome program which DOE and NIH jointly plan and carry out. The DOE portion of the program focuses on developing technical capabilities and tools, while the NIH effort is oriented toward characterizing diseaseoriented genes, through use of both human and non-human model systems.