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NPD - 2013 IBA-Europhysics Prize Winner
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The Nuclear Physics Division of the EPS awards the IBA-Europhysics Prize in Applied Nuclear Science and Nuclear Methods in Medicine.


   The IBA-Europhysics Prize is sponsored by the company IBA Group. It was first offered in 2004 and thereafter every odd year.

Prize Winner 2013

The European Physical Society, through its Nuclear Physics Division, has awarded the 2013 IBA-Europhysics Prize to

Professor Marco Durante, Director of the Biophysics Department at GSI Helmholtz Centre, Darmstadt, Germany.

Marco Durante
Prof. Marco Durante

Prof Durante has been awarded the prize for "his outstanding and seminal contributions to research topics in the field of radiation biophysics, including work in clinical and space radiobiology, particle genetic damage and therapy, and his valuable activities in the scientific community."

Prof. Durante has had a long and distinguished career in radiation biophysics. Starting with his PhD (Naples 1988) in this field, he has gone on to become a world-leading authority in radiation biophysics.

He devised a method to detect and measure biological effects of charged-particles on cells using solid state nuclear track detectors. Following irradiation with He-ions, cells were incubated and the colonies analysed to determine the fraction surviving irradiation. He spent many years analysing chromosomal aberrations induced by heavy ions. At NASA Johnson Space Center, he combined the methods of premature chromosome condensation (PCC) and fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) to study the formation of chromosomal aberrations in human cells. The results proved that the kinetics of formation of chromosomal aberrations after heavy ions has the same mechanism and follows the same shape as for sparsely ionizing radiation, although quantitative differences were observed.

He applied modern techniques including mFISH, mBAND, and RxFISH to cells exposed to heavy ions and his studies pointed out qualitative differences in the aberrations induced by heavy ions, particularly a large increase in complex-type exchanges.

He developed a novel technique, together with Dr. Eisuke Gotoh, for premature chromosome condensation, based on the action of a phosphatise inhibitor, calyculin A. The method is now largely used in biodosimetry, after exposure to heavy ions.

Prof Durante is a leading expert in biological effects of space radiation, and advises ESA on radiobiology. Since 2000 he has lead a large International Collaboration including European, Japanese and US research centres for studying biological effects of shielded heavy ions. These studies helped demonstrate that light, hydrogen rich materials, such as polyethylene, are more effective than high-Z materials for protection from cosmic rays.

He has worked on biodosimetry in astronauts working with Russian cosmonauts involved in long-term space missions. The study of chromosomal aberrations led to the observation that the radiosensitivity decreases in later flights, compared to the first mission, pointing to a possible acquired radioresistance induced by exposure to space flight.

Prof. Durante's expertise in the biophysics of heavy ions has also been applied in several studies dealing with cancer hadrontherapy. At the Chiba National Institute for Radiological Center (Japan), he studied tissue samples from similar patients treated with either X-rays or high-energy carbon ions. The comparison demonstrated that, although C-ions are more effective in the induction of genetic damage per unit dose, the damage in the patient is reduced, because of the better dose localization and minimized normal tissue damage in hadrontherapy. This research is continuing at GSI where recent work has focused on issues involving moving targets.

The 2013 IBA-Europhysics Prize was presented to Prof Durante by Mr Thomas Servais, R&D Manager for Accelerator Development at the IBA Group, which sponsors the prize, at a ceremony on 7th June 2013 during the International Nuclear Physics Conference (INPC), held in Florence, Italy. Dr Douglas MacGregor, Chair of the IBA Prize Committee and Chair-elect of the EPS Nuclear Physics Division, presented a diploma on behalf of the EPS.

Prize Winners Previous Years

A list of previous winners of the IBA-Europhysics Prize can be found here.

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