Funding for radiation research: past, present and future

Kunwoo Cho, Tatsuhiko Imaoka, Dmitry Klokov, Tatjana Paunesku, Sisko Salomaa, Mandy Birschwilks, Simon Bouffler, Antone L. Brooks, Tom K. Hei, Toshiyasu Iwasaki, Tetsuya Ono, Kazuo Sakai, Andrzej Wojcik, Gayle E. Woloschak, Yutaka Yamada, Nobuyuki Hamada*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


For more than a century, ionizing radiation has been indispensable mainly in medicine and industry. Radiation research is a multidisciplinary field that investigates radiation effects. Radiation research was very active in the mid- to late 20th century, but has then faced challenges, during which time funding has fluctuated widely. Here we review historical changes in funding situations in the field of radiation research, particularly in Canada, European Union countries, Japan, South Korea, and the US. We also provide a brief overview of the current situations in education and training in this field. A better understanding of the biological consequences of radiation exposure is becoming more important with increasing public concerns on radiation risks and other radiation literacy. Continued funding for radiation research is needed, and education and training in this field are also important.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)816-840
Number of pages25
JournalInternational Journal of Radiation Biology
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jul 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Historically, research in Chalk River at the Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL) has been connected with nuclear industry, via the CANDU reactor technologies. Subsequently, the radiation protection research program at AECL was supported by the CANDU Owners Group Inc (COG), and such support has undergone a steady growth since 1980s (Figure 1). Importantly, in the late 1990s, COG co-funded the construction of a new animal facility specifically designed for large-scale low-dose radiation studies (Wang et al. 2019). This globally unique facility called the biological research facility (BRF) further facilitated low-dose radiation biology studies in Canada, attracting national and international partners and collaborators.

Funding Information:
assessment of initial radiation dose of the accident, and (5) the morbidity trend in the affected areas (MOE 2018a). This project accepts 5–10 new proposals every year, each funded for at most 3 years with a typical upper limit of JPY 10 M/year (including overhead expenses). The budget for the project shows an increasing trend until 2016 (Figure 5) (based on open information such as in MOE 2018b). Since 2017, some of the accepted proposals have additionally been supported by another competitive funding for employment of young researchers.

Funding Information:
During the last several decades, the Ministry of Science and ICT (Information Communication and Technology) (MIST) of South Korea has been the source of national research grant for the advancement of science and technology in various fields including radiation biology and agricultural applications of radiation as part of pure basic science under the 21st century national R&D initiative of ‘expanding investment in R&D with global competitiveness’.

Funding Information:
The FDNPP accident greatly influenced the administration of NIRS. First, NIRS started projects to support restoration of the affected area, including through low dose radiation effect research, funded by the Special Account Budget for Reconstruction from the Great East Japan Earthquake (2012–2017) (Figure 3(C), ‘Reconstruction from the Earthquake’). Second, NRA joined in its supervision (i.e. MEXT and NRA now jointly supervise NIRS), with the grants for administrative expenses provided only by MEXT. Third, restructuring of Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA) resulted in integration of NIRS with four research institutes of JAEA, giving birth to a new national corporation QST in 2016. During 2010–2015, the direct governmental grant for administrative expenses steadily decreased from JPY 11.4 to 9.4 billion, with ~4.1% annual reduction (NIRS 2018). The share for radiation safety research in 2015 was small (JPY ~0.6 billion including employment) in the total of JPY 9.4 billion, where medical application research accounts for JPY 4.6 billion (NIRS 2018) (Figure 3(C)).

Funding Information:
Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research (also called KAKEN) is a major research grant of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) of Japan, covering all fields of science ranging from humanities and social sciences to natural sciences. It is a competitive research fund of a bottom-up nature, aiming at promoting academic research based on researchers’ unfettered interest. Herein, research fields were categorized with a unique system, and proposals were reviewed by peer scientists in a specific field. Classification of radiation research has moved from ‘radiation biology’ (in 1972–1992, under a category of ‘multidisciplinary fields’) through ‘environmental effects assessment (including radiation biology)’ (in 1993–2002, under ‘environmental sciences’) to ‘risk sciences of radiation/chemicals’ (in 2003–2017, under the same category) (NII 2018). Investment in these three fields showed an increasing trend, reaching JPY ~800 M, until mid-2000s (NII 2018) (Figure 2). This partly mirrors the steady growth of the budget for the total science and technology (NISTEP 2013), but the share of the above fields also increased from 0.26% to 0.46% during 1996–2010 (NII 2018).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019, © 2019 The Author(s). Published with license by Taylor and Francis Group, LLC.


  • Canada
  • European Union countries
  • Japan
  • Radiation research funding
  • South Korea
  • US


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