Targets, pools, shoulders, and communication – a reflection on the evolution of low-dose radiobiology
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This reflection aims to look at the evolution of thinking about radiation dose response relationships from the early years of the journal when target theory prevailed to the present day when dose response is seen as a more holistic process involving multiple levels of organization and communication. The review is structured to consider how the old ideas evolved leading to apparently abrupt paradigm shifts. The odd data leading to these conceptual shifts are reviewed. Topics, which are currently still not mainstream are considered with a view to how they may change the future of radiobiology. Finally some personal reflections on the insights gained during the writing of the review are presented. The major conclusion from this study is that ideas concerning survival curves and radiation dose responses evolved and (epi)mutated gradually, driven in a large part by the techniques available for studying radiobiological processes. The illusion of abrupt paradigm shifts is not really borne out by the history when primary references are studied rather than textbooks or reviews. The textbooks necessarily simplify and distil complex data to provide a 'take-home message' while reviews are usually very personal collations selected among the vast amount of scientific literature. Primary references reveal the context of the discussion and the caveats and uncertainties of the authors.
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