Ron Mitchel was granted his Ph.D. degree in Biochemistry from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver and was subsequently awarded a postdoctoral fellowship in the UCLA School of Medicine’s Department of Biochemistry. He then returned to Canada and joined the Radiation Biology & Health Physics Branch of Atomic Energy of Canada in Chalk River Ontario as a Research Scientist, where he has remained for the rest of his career. In the late 1970’s he focused his research on radiation induced adaptive responses, and since then has lead the AECL low dose research program.
His research examines the biological effects and risks of ionizing radiation at the molecular, cellular and whole animal levels. Experimental models include yeast, human and other cells in culture, and rodents in vivo. Investigations focus on understanding the biological responses to low doses and low dose rates of high and low LET radiation and assessing their influence on radiation risk, including cancer and non-cancer diseases, heritable mutations and teratogenic effects. The central theme of the research is the adaptive response to radiation, a non-targeted hormetic effect of radiation and one aspect of a general response to stress. The genetic control of the adaptive response is examined in relation to DNA repair processes, cell cycle control and apoptotic signals, and the influence of these processes is being related to the biological control of low dose radiation risk in vivo. The implications of these biological processes for current theories of human and environmental radiation risk and radiation protection practices are being assessed.
Ron is now a consulting scientist at AECL, an adjunct professor of Biology at Laurentian University, Associate Editor of two scientific journals, and the author of numerous peer reviewed scientific publications. His research results, and their implications for the nuclear industry have been regularly presented at National and International conferences and to many nuclear industry groups. In 2003 he received the W. B. Lewis Medal, the highest honour jointly awarded by the Canadian Nuclear Society and the Canadian Nuclear Association.