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Medtech Impact on Wellness

The excitement of space travel can obscure the dangers, and radiation exposure is one such forgotten factor. Sarah Baatout is a radiobiologist who helps protect astronauts in space and minimize space radiation effects on the human body.

Listen and learn

  • How radiation exposure compares across different positions, from earth to plane flight to moon walking,
  • What are space radiation effects such as damage to DNA and how they are able to identity the type and nature of the damage, and
  • What materials protect from radiation and what are some exciting future materials in the works. 

Sarah Baatout is the head of the radiobiology unit at the Belgian Nuclear Research Centre (SCK•CEN). She investigates the impact of ionizing radiation on health through radiobiology and radiation protection. She works to maximize benefits that radiation can offer in cancer treatments and improve radiotherapy safety. In addition, she does research to better predict the risks of exposure for space travel and to astronauts in the space station

As we go about our daily activities on earth, our atmosphere and magnetic field protects us from radiation exposure. But Sarah Baatout focuses on the cases where that changes, from those needing radiation treatments to space station inhabitants. Furthermore, there are several different types of radiation in space that must be accounted for. Conversely, there are several different ways to protect the body, or radiation protectors, to stop the damage induced by cosmic radiation.

Her work includes boosting the way cells repair DNA damage as well as understanding how sensitivity to damage varies across different people. She’s also developing pharmaceuticals to make radiation exposure much less dangerous by protecting healthy cells and improving the radiation to target cancer more specifically.

For more about her work, see the SCK•CEN website.

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