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Discovering the causes of cancer and the means of prevention

Radiation Epidemiology Branch Staff Spotlight

Steven L. Simon, Ph.D. is an internationally-recognized expert in radiation dose reconstruction, especially in the area of occupational and environmental exposures and cancer. Within the Radiation Epidemiology Branch (REB), he leads the Dosimetry Unit, a group of health physicists who provide dose estimates for epidemiological studies of radiation exposure and cancer, and develop exposure assessment methods for improved dosimetry.

Before coming to the NCI, he directed the radiation surveys of the Marshall Islands and Johnston Island. He also served as a survey team member of the nuclear test sites in French Polynesia and Algeria. Since he joined the NCI in 2000, he has investigated exposures and related health risks from nuclear weapons testing sites, including Nevada, U.S., Kazakhstan (former Soviet Union), as well as global fallout. He is well known for his extensive publications in this field1,2.

In addition, he advises national and international organizations on issues related to environmental contamination from nuclear materials and related radiation exposures. In March 2011, he was deployed to Japan to advise the U.S. embassy and consulates on health risk issues related to radiation exposure following the earthquake, tsunami, and damage to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. For two weeks, Dr. Simon and four colleagues from NIH, CDC, and FDA addressed a range of questions to help American citizens living in Japan to make informed health and safety decisions3,4. For this service, he was recognized with a DCEG Exemplary Service Award.

Dr. Simon directs the REB Program on Radiological and Nuclear threats, which has received funding since 2005 from the Radiation and Nuclear Countermeasures Program of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). Through this funding, he has investigated novel markers of radiation dose absorption using optically stimulated luminescence in human tooth enamel5, improved methodology in characterizing uncertainty in environmental radiation exposure models, and developed guidelines for data collection activities following nuclear reactor accidents6. Currently, he is conducting a risk projection study for the population of New Mexico from the Trinity nuclear test, and studying chromosome aberration rates in high-dose U.S. atomic veterans.

Related Publications

1Simon SL, Bouville, A, Land, C. Fallout from Nuclear Weapons Tests and Cancer Risk. American Scientist, 94(1):48-57; 2006.

2Simon SL, Beck H, Land C, Bouville A. Radiation doses and cancer risks in the Marshal Islands associated with exposure to fallout from Bikini and Enewetak nuclear weapons tests: Summary. Health Physics, 99(2):105-123; 2010.

3Coleman C, Simon SL, Noska MA, Telfer J, Bowman T. Letter: Disaster Preparation: Lessons from Japan. Science, 332(17):1379; 2011.

4Simon SL, Coleman CN, Noska MA, Bowman T. Response of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in Protecting Civilian Americans in Japan during the Fukushima Nuclear Crisis. Health Physics, 102(5): 570–579; 2012.

5Sholom S, Dewitt R, Simon SL, Bouville A, McKeever SW. Emergency Dose Estimation Using Optically Stimulated Luminescence from Human Tooth Enamel. Radiation Measurements, 46(9):778-782; 2011.

6Bouville A, Linet MS, Hatch M, Mabuchi K, Simon SL. Guidelines for exposure assessment in health risk studies following a nuclear reactor accident. Environmental Health Perspectives, 122(1):1-5; 2014.