Friday, January 4, 2013

U.S. Health Physics Society president-elect, Dr. Darrell R. Fisher visits GHPA

Georgian Health Physicists Observe Fifth Year With Technical Symposium in Tbilisi

Darrell R. Fisher, HPS President-elect

The Georgia Health Physics Association (GHPA) celebrated its fifth anniversary as a chapter of the Health Physics Society (HPS) with a technical symposium in Tbilisi, Georgia, 3 January 2013. HPS President-elect Darrell Fisher attended and spoke during the symposium. About 20 chapter members from the capital city of Tbilisi and surrounding areas attended the symposium. Attendees included physicians, government officials, university professors, medical physicists, and a member of the Georgian Academy of Sciences.

At the Georgia Health Physics Association technical symposium: standing, left to right, Vladimer Rusetski, George Kharashvili, Archil Kapanadze, George Ormotsadze, Alla Zedginidze, Ema Namchevadze, Samson Pagava, Levan Tkavadze, and Giorgi Nabakhtiani; sitting, left to right, Lia Chelidze, George Japaridze, Darrell Fisher, Grigol Kiknadze, and Nino Kobalia. 
Photo courtesy of Levan Tkavadze

The Republic of Georgia, a former state of the Soviet Union, is today a sovereign nation of 4.7 million people. Georgia borders the Black Sea on the west, Russia on the north, Turkey and Armenia on the south, and Azerbaijan to the southeast. After gaining independence from the former Soviet Union in 1991, Georgia experienced civil and political unrest—including a recent (year 2008) military confrontation with Russia. About one-third of the Republic in two break-away regions is still occupied by the Russian army. The conflict with Russia interrupted economic recovery and damaged much of the country’s vital infrastructure. Since gaining independence, the Georgian government has sought stronger ties to the United States and Western Europe.

The GHPA is one of the newer chapters of the HPS. Students from Georgia have trained in health physics at U.S. universities, notably at Idaho State University in Pocatello. Idaho State graduates George Kharashvili of Jefferson Lab (Newport News, Virginia) and Levan Tkavadze of Ekert & Ziegler Analytics, Inc. (Atlanta, Georgia) helped organize and also participated in the January symposium in Tbilisi. 

The founding president of the GHPA, Dr. Archil Kapanadze, is also vice president of the Georgia Medical Physics Association. Dr. Kapanadze spoke about cytogenetics and electron paramagnetic resonance in tooth enamel as biodosimetry for helping to better establish the links between small radiation doses and adverse biological effects. He stated that biodosimetry should be a useful tool for helping to understand the full consequences of an unplanned radiation exposure and to improve medical management of patients. 

Cytogeneticist Alla Zedginidze described techniques for looking at dicentrics and micronuclei in peripheral blood lymphocytes according to procedures recommended by the International Atomic Energy Agency. In Georgia, cytogenetic analyses have been performed on about 200 people inadvertently exposed to radiation, including medical and military personnel. The threshold for observing dicentrics and micronuclei in peripheral lymphocytes is about 0.2 Gy. 

Chapter Vice President Lia Chelidze described the radiation safety regulatory infrastructure of Georgia. The legislative framework for radiation safety had to be completely rewritten by new legislation after independence. The Republic has had to deal with Russian military radiation sources that were abandoned by Russian troops. Many of the abandoned sources, including some welldocumented 90Sr radioisotope thermoelectric generators, have resulted in radiation exposures to Georgian citizens and soldiers (Stone 2003). The Republic of Georgia is working to establish a stronger scientific and technical capability for detecting and characterizing radioactive materials associated with both military sources and materials in commercial goods transported through the country. However, further work is needed to appropriately manage and dispose of abandoned orphan sources.

Fisher spoke on the history, structure, and goals of the HPS. Tkavadze and Kharashvili provided simultaneous translation from English to Georgian.

Professor Giorgi Nabakhtiani described the status of radiation safety education in Georgia. The International Atomic Energy Agency is helping Georgia establish university courses in radiation physics and dosimetry at the Georgian Technical University. A compelling need exists for English-language textbooks on radiation safety and health physics. Nabakhtiani asked for help from members of the HPS to donate extra textbooks, such as Herman Cember’s Introduction to Health Physics (Pergamon). A plan for collecting used textbooks will be announced in a coming issue of Health Physics News. 

Wages and salaries in Georgia are small compared to their western counterparts. Additional financial support is needed to sponsor Georgians with membership in the HPS. Members who wish to either contribute textbooks or to sponsor member dues should contact Darrell Fisher.


Stone R.The hunt for hot stuff. Smithsonian 33(12):58; 2003. Available at: www.smithsonianmag. com/science-nature/hotstuff.html. Accessed 17 June 2013.

No comments:

Post a Comment