Ionizing radiation

WHO BioDoseNet

biological dosimetry (biodosimetry)

"The laboratory or clinical methods used to measure or estimate the dose of ionizing radiation energy absorbed by an individual. Biodosimetry tools measure the dose to internal organs and tissues from external exposure and internal contamination"


In 2007 the World Health Organization (WHO) conducted a survey of biological dosimetry laboratories and their emergency-response capabilities in selected regions. The results indicated a robust capability, although there were few regional or national networks established. It was also evident that a global coordination along with technical cooperation was needed in order to ensure these networks will be engaged and fully-operational when supporting management of a large radiation emergency event.

What is BioDoseNet?

WHO BioDoseNet is a global network of biodosimetry laboratories whose role is to support management and decision-making in cases of large radiation emergency events where the capability of individual laboratory is likely to be overwhelmed. In preparedness for such events, the BioDoseNet focuses on harmonization of methodology, quality assurance, knowledge-sharing, and intercomparision exercises.

In December 2007 WHO held a consultation in Geneva, Switzerland, to develop the framework for a global biodosimetry network - BioDoseNet. The meeting produced a series of recommendations for the creation of a worldwide, multi-laboratory network providing for acute biodosimetry surge capacity for management of radiation emergencies.

The consultation focused on cytogenetic biodosimetry technique, the scope of activities, and a concept-of-operations framework for the WHO BioDoseNet. Reliance on the use of the relevant International Standards Organization (ISO) standards was emphasized (i.e. ISO 21243).

The BioDoseNet has been established to fulfill WHO's mandate under the International Health Regulations (IHR, 2005) and its implementation plan.

1st Coordination Meeting of the WHO BioDoseNet

The 1st Coordination Meeting of the WHO BioDoseNet was held in Hanover, New Hampshire, USA, in September 2008. Representatives from 28 countries and more than 40 biodosimetry laboratories attended. The outcomes of the meeting were:

  • an agreement on the Terms of Reference for BioDoseNet,
  • an identification of the most pressing needs and ways of fulfilling those needs,
  • nomination of a Steering Group and specific Task Groups, and
  • planned collaborative activities.

2008 meeting documentation