Dr. Ruth Wilkins

Adjunct Research Professor
Radiobiology Division - Consumer and Clinical Radiation Protection Bureau - Health Canada
775 Brookfield Road, PL 6303B,
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 1C1
(613) 941 - 7263
ruth [dot] wilkinsathc-sc [dot] gc [dot] ca

 Research Summary

  My laboratory at Health Canada is focusing on the biological effects of ionizing radiation.  The main ongoing projects include:

   1) Biological dosimetry is a method of measuring the amount of ionizing radiation received by an individual using biological material.  This type of dosimeter is essential when an individual is accidentally exposed and no physical dosimetry is available.  Currently, the accepted method of biological dosimetry is the dicentric chromosome assay which involves examining chromosomes for characteristic damage caused by ionizing radiation.  This is a very tedious and time consuming assay, requiring weeks to process a sample from one individual.  For large scale radiological events where thousands of individuals might be exposed to ionizing radiation, a biological dosimeter is desirable that could analyse many samples in a timely manner.  Our laboratory is currently exploring new techniques for biological dosimetry.

   2) Exploring biological markers for radiation sensitivity to assist in predicting the response of patients to radiotherapy exposures.  Ionizing radiation is an essential treatment for many types of cancer with prescriptions for treatment being established based on the normal response of individuals to this treatment.  An issue arises when a patient does not have a normal response to radiation, i.e., they are more radiosensitive than normal resulting in negative side effects, or more radioresistant than normal, resulting in poor tumor control.  We are examining several cytogenetic and molecular endpoints in an attempt to identify a marker for radiation response.

  Selected Publications

1.      Wilkins, R.C., Beaton-Green, L.A., Lachapelle, S., Kutzner, B.C, Ferrarotto, C., Chauhan, V., Marro, L., Livingston, G.K., Boulay Greene, H., Flegal, F.N. Evaluation of the Annual Canadian Biodosimetry Network Intercomparisons. Int. J Radiat Biol, In Press, 2015.

 2.      Rodrigues, M.A., Beaton-Green, L.A., Kutzner, B.C., Wilkins, R.C Multi-Parameter Dose Estimations in Radiation Biodosimetry Using the Automated Cytokinesis-Block Micronucleus Assay with Imaging Flow Cytometry. Cytometry PartA. 85A:883-893 (2014).

  3.      Rodrigues, M.A., Beaton-Green, L.A., Kutzner, B.C., Wilkins, R.C. Automated analysis of the cytokinesis-block micronucleus assay for radiation biodosimetry using imaging flow cytometry. Radiat Environ Biophys. 53(2):273-82 (2014)

  4.      Sugarman, S.L., Livingston, G.K., Stricklin, D.L., Abbott, M.G., Wilkins, R.C., Romm. H., Oestreicher, U., Yoshida, M.A., Miura, T., Moquet, J.E., Di Giorgio, M., Ferrarotto, C., Gross, G.A., Christiansen, M.E., Hart, C.L., Christensen, D.M. The Internet's Role in a Biodosimetric Response to a Radiation Mass Casualty Event. Health Physics, 106 (5 Suppl 2):S65-70, doi: 10.1097/HP.0000000000000080 (2014)

  5.      Beaton, L.A., Marro, L., Samiee, S., Malone, S., Grimes, S., Malone, K., Wilkins, R.C. Investigating Chromosome Damage Using Fluorescent In Situ Hybridization To Identify Biomarkers Of Radiosensitivity In Prostate Cancer Patients. Int J. Radiat. Biol.89 (12): 1097-93, doi:10.3109/09553002.2013.825060 (2013)

  6.      Beaton, L.A., Marro, L., Malone, S., Samiee, S., Grimes, S., Malone, K., Wilkins, R.C. Investigating γH2AX as a Biomarker of Radiosensitivity Using Flow Cytometry Methods. ISRN Radiology, Volume 2013, Article ID 704659, doi:10.5402/2013/704659 (2013).

  7.      Beaton, L.A, Ferrarotto, C., Kutzner, B.C., McNamee, J.P., Bellier, P.V., Wilkins, R.C. Analysis of chromosome damage for biodosimetry using imaging flow cytometry. Mutation Research, 756(1-2): 192-195 (2013).

  8.      Beaton, L.A., Ferrarotto, C., Marro, L., Samiee, S., Malone, S., Grimes, S., Malone, K., Wilkins, R.C. Chromosome Damage and Cell Proliferation Rates in In Vitro Irradiated Whole Blood as Markers of Late Radiation Toxicity After Radiation Therapy to the Prostate. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. Vol. 85, No. 5, pp. 1346-1352 (2013). 

  9.      Maznyk, N.A., Wilkins, R.C., Carr, Z., Lloyd, D.C. The Capacity, Capabilities and Needs of the Who BioDoseNet Member Laboratories. Radiation Protection Dosimetry, 151(4): 611-620 (2012).

  10.  Flegal, F.N. Devantier, Y., Marro, L., Wilkins, R.C. Validation of QuickScan Dicentric Chromosome Analysis for High Throughput Radiation Biological Dosimetry, 102, 143-53.  Health Physics (2012).

  11.  Wilkins, R.C, Romm, H., Oestreicher, U., Yoshida. M.A., Sutoc, Y., Prasanna, P.G.S. Biological Dosimetry by the Triage Dicentric Chromosome Assay - Further validation of International Networking, Radiation Measurements, 46, 923-928 (2011).

  12.  Romm, H., Wilkins, R.C., Coleman, C.N., Lillis-Hearne, P.K., Pellmar, T.C., Livingston, G.K., Awa, A.A., Jenkins, M.S., Yoshida, M.A., Oestreicher, U., and Prasanna, P.G.S. Biological Dosimetry by the Triage Dicentric Chromosome Assay - Potential Implications for Treatment of Acute Radiation Syndrome in Radiological Mass Casualties. Radiation Research, 175, 397–404 (2011).

  13.  Wilkins, R.C., Romm, H., Kao, T-C., Awa, A.A.,  Yoshida, M.A., Livingston, G.K., Jenkins, M.S., Oestreicher, U., Pellmar, T.C. and Prasanna, P.G.S. Interlaboratory comparison of the dicentric chromosome assay for radiation biodosimetry in mass casualty events.  Radiation Research, 169,551-560 (2008). 

  14.  Miller, S.M., Ferrarotto, C.L., Wilkins, R.C., Dolling, J-A., Boreham, D.R., Canadian Cytogenetic Emergency Network (CEN) for biological dosimetry following radiological/nuclear accidents, International Journal of Radiation Biology, 83, 471-477 (2007).