Researcher’s Profile

Sally Amundson


The major focus of the Amundson laboratory is the study of gene expression responses to ionizing radiation. Exposure to adverse environmental conditions, including DNA damaging agents like radiation, triggers stress signals that lead to the altered expression of multiple genes. The genes that respond to stress are involved in many different cellular processes, such as cell-cycle control, programmed cell death, DNA repair, differentiation and senescence. By changing the pattern of genes being expressed, a cell can essentially reprogram itself to respond to environmental challenges.

Modern measurement techniques enable us to obtain a “snapshot” of gene expression across the whole genome. Interpreting a series of such snapshots can help us to understand how cells change their gene expression program as they respond to radiation exposure. This can give us insights into signal transduction pathways and the molecular mechanisms underlying cellular, tissue and whole organism responses to radiation.

The Amundson lab is using such approaches to investigate several radiation biology questions important to human health, including:

• How does exposure to low dose and low dose-rate radiation differ from high dose acute exposures?

• How do signals from irradiated cells or tissues cause effects in nearby unexposed cells (bystander effect)? 

• How does radiation exposure affect breast cancer development, and how is the process different in the Space radiation environment that would be encountered in long-term manned Space missions?

• Can gene expression measurements provide radiation biodosimetry for triage in emergency situations? 


Brenner DJ, Vazquez M, Buonanno M, Amundson SA, Bigelow AW, Garty G, Harken AD, Hei TK, Marino SA, Ponnaiya B, Randers-Pehrson G, and Xu Y (2014) Integrated interdisciplinary training in the radiological sciences. Br J Radiol 87: 20130779.

Laiakis EC, Mak TD, Anizan S, Amundson SA, Barker CA, Wolden SL, Brenner DJ, and Fornace AJJ (2014) Development of a Metabolomic Radiation Signature in Urine from Patients Undergoing Total Body Irradiation. Radiat Res 181: 350-361.

Luo X, Suzuki M, Ghandhi SA, Amundson SA, and Boothman DA (2014) ATM Regulates Insulin-Like Growth Factor 1-Secretory Clusterin (IGF-1-sCLU) Expression that Protects Cells against Senescence. PLoS One 9: e99983.

Paul S, Ghandhi SA, Weber W, Doyle-Eisele M, Melo D, Guilmette R, and Amundson SA (2014) Gene Expression Response of Mice after a Single Dose of 137Cs as an Internal Emitter. Radiat Res 182(4): 380-389. 

Paul S and Amundson SA (2014) Differential effect of active smoking on gene expression in male and female smokers. J Carcinog Mutagen 5: 198.